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EThekwini Condemns Sensational Reporting About The Pencil Club Discussion

Date: 2023-06-07 08:08:03

EThekwini Condemns Sensational Reporting About The Pencil Club Discussion

24 MAY 2023

EThekwini Municipality condemns the sensationalist news reporting and misrepresentation of a report that was tabled this week at the City’s Economic Development and Planning Committee meeting related to venue hire at uMhlanga’s The Pencil Club.

The article titled “Whiskey and Cigars: eThekwini ANC wants R16k-a-day exclusive club to ‘keep up’ with investors” was first published online on 23 May and has since been replicated by other publications. 

The news reports about the discussions in the committee meeting are riddled with assumptions, errors, conjecture, and exaggerations, designed to elicit extreme reactions from readers and listeners. The reporting also shows a lack of the most basic of research skills.

The City’s Economic Development and Planning Cluster tabled a report where it sought approval to use The Pencil Club for meetings with investors. The Pencil Club was found to be an ideal location, as it is situated near various new developments including but not limited to the Raddison Blu hotel, Oceans Mall, and the Sibaya Precinct among others.  This presents a chance to showcase and demonstrate the City’s offerings and enhance investor confidence. In addition, the strategic positioning of The Pencil Club offers an advantageous perspective, allowing investors to appreciate the City’s beauty and scenery due to its elevated height.

A key fact that most news reports have chosen to conveniently ignore in pursuit of sensational headlines is that the report was about venue hire as and when required, it was NOT about membership of The Pencil Club. 

The City hires venues across the Municipality all the time. Any insinuation that some venues must be excluded from procurement for no other reason other than some reporter once heard that there are cigars in that venue must be rejected. All that is required in all procurement is that the correct procedures must be followed, and the necessary approvals obtained. There must also be value for money in whatever the City procures.

Much research went into the compilation of the report, and a comparative cost benefit analysis was conducted among six other venues in the City that have similar offerings as The Pencil Club. The following observations are noteworthy:
The average cost for venue hire only per day, at the following establishments is as follows: -
• Moses Mabhida Stadium - R13 860
• Durban International Convention Centre- R25 000
• Max’s Lifestyle - R10 000 – R15000
• Octavia Hotel- R25 500
• Oyster Box- R8 000
• Botanic Gardens - R8 500

Based on the analysis, the costs associated with venue hire at The Pencil Club align with market standards and are competitively priced. The Pencil Club offers a total of six meeting rooms, with venue hire prices varying from R3000 for a capacity of six people, to R16,000 for a larger space accommodating up to 80 individuals.

Furthermore, it is important to highlight that the utilization of The Pencil Club would be occasional, dependent on budget availability, and in line with specific requirements and status of the clients being accommodated.

The City also finds the headline used in the article nonsensical, as the report tabled made no mention of ‘whiskey and cigars’, nor would the City ever allow for such wasteful expenditure and gross indulgence at the expense of its residents. 

Issued by eThekwini Municipality.