Kananelo Boloetse and Lerato Matheka
An orchestra concert and a gala dinner for 250 guests held on July 15, ahead of His Majesty King Letsie III’s 60th birthday ran up a bill of M6.7 million, Newsday has learned.
The two events were part of a series of celebrations marking the King’s milestone birthday, organised by Brand New Vixion (BNV), a relatively unknown marketing agency that came into the spotlight recently.
A concept note prepared by BNV, detailing the estimated costs for the celebrations, was seen by Newsday.
The concept note indicated that 250 guests would be shuttled to ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre in Maseru where they would be ushered to the auditorium for “a special live performance by the Mzansi Philharmonic Orchestra”.
The show was titled: Diamond Philharmonic Orchestra Concert.
After the performance, guests would be ushered into the garden at the Royal Palace for a full-course dining experience – a six-course dinner menu that included: an hors d’oeuvre, soup, appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert.
The document stated that each course would be paired with a wine and palate cleansers (lemon or cucumber water or lemon sorbet) would be served in between courses.
“Seating would be made up of 25 ten-seater round tables with 25 roving servers throughout the evening. Due to the expected cold winter weather and the fact that it is an outdoor evening setting, we propose having a clear-span marquee with indirect-fired space heating inside and patio heaters outside to keep guests warm.
“There will be a covered veranda with lounge and cocktail seating outside for those who will be smoking. 3 x three counter full mobile bars will be set up with two bars inside the marquee and one bar on the outside for ease of access and efficiency.”
It also stated that dinner would be accompanied by a live performance by Basotho artists Maleh and Leomile accompanied by a five-piece band.
It said the evening would culminate in an open dancefloor inviting guests to enjoy the music and dance to fusion band performances and DJing.
“20x Shuttles will be on standby and rotating from 22h00 transporting guests from the venue to their places of accommodation,” it read.
This event was titled: Diamond Gala Dinner and Dance.
A whopping M6,743,332 was budgeted for the philharmonic orchestra concert and gala dinner dance alone.
CLARIFICATIONS FROM OFFICIALS
Principal Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs and Police, Tumelo Raboletsi, confirmed that the two events were not organised by the government.
“They (Brand New Vixion) were organising their own events separately from the government, and I have no idea how they were engaged or by whom,” Raboletsi stated.
The Ministry of Home Affairs is charged with organising, planning, and executing state ceremonies and events.
Tlotlisang Setsumi of BNV confirmed the authenticity of the concept note but emphasised that the agency was not contracted by the government. Setsumi also confirmed that everything went as planned.
He stressed that the events were privately organised to mark the King’s birthday and were unrelated to official government ceremonies.
“These had nothing to do with the government, the events were organised privately,” he said.
Who contracted BNV and who foot the bill for the extravagant festivities? Newsday promises to uncover these details in their next issue, set to be released on Friday, July 28, 2023.