The Planning Committee which organises the annual Kundum Festival, for the chiefs and people of the Upper and Lower Axim communities in the Western Region has responded to the Auditor-General’s report which claimed that the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, spent GHS200,000 on the Festival held in 2018.
The audit report stated that the said amount meant for the Marine Drive project was expended on the festival from 1st to 9th September 2018.
But a statement issued by the Upper and Lower Axim Kundum Planning Committee explained that the Ministry of Tourism headed by the then sector minister, Catherine Afeku, donated GHS7,000, towards the festival in 2018.
“During the 2018 Kundum Festival celebration, the Tourism, and Creative Arts Ministry officially and solely donated GHS7,000, to the Planning Committee to be distributed to Axim’s two traditional leaders (Upper and Lower).”
The statement signed by the Chairman of the committee who doubles as the Nkosuohene of the Lower Axim Traditional Area in the Western Region, Nana Osei Nkwantabisa, noted that “in 2019, an amount of GHS5,000 was received from Madam Catherine Afeku’s office as then Member of Parliament for our constituency to aid the successful organisation [of the festival].”
It also noted that no funds were received from either the “Ministry of Tourism and Creative Arts or Catherine Afeku’s office to assist with the aftermath of any Kundum festival projects, including the theatre project.”
The Committee, therefore, cautioned the public and social commentators within the Evalue Ajomoro Gwira constituency and Ghanaians at large to be guided by their utterances on the matter.
Speaking in an interview with Citi News, the Chairman of the Committee, Nana Osei Nkwantabisa, said what precipitated the release of the statement was the insults they had received from some people in the region since the audit report was released.
He said that Axim is just one out of several communities in the region that celebrates the festival, but the Axim Planning Committee had to come clean on the issue so that people don’t mistake the festival mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report for what is celebrated by the people of Axim.
“We are responding to this because the Axim Kundum is the one that was more attractive. In that year, Kofi Kinaata and other top musicians came to perform, so because the report made it general, we needed to let people know that the amount was not spent on our festival,” he noted.
He urged all media outlets that are making negative comments and writing articles about the Planning Committee to stop and instead direct their attention to the Tourism and Creative Arts Ministry for further clarification about the amount cited in the Auditor-General’s report.
About Kundum festival
The Kundum festival is celebrated by the Ahanta and Nzema people of the Western Region of Ghana.
It is celebrated to thank God for the abundance of food at the times of the harvest period.
There were reports that Axim residents commended the Tourism Ministry for organising a music concert in collaboration with an event organising agency at the Axim Beach Resort during the Kundum festival in 2018.
The concert had performances from the likes of D-Black, Wisa Greid, Kofi Kinaata, Kwesi Arthur, Kidi, Kuami Eugene, D-Black, Dahlin Gage, S3fa, Freda Rhymz, Osayo among others.
What the Auditor-General’s report said on Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry
The Auditor-General’s report indicted former Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Catherine Afeku, and other government officials for misapplying state resources.
The Auditor-General’s report for the period ended 31 December 2020, stated that an amount of GH¢387,196.00 meant for the Marine Drive project was misapplied by the ministry for the celebration of the Kundum festival and other initiatives.
“In contravention of Section 7 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), we noted that funds meant for the Marine Drive project amounting to GH¢387,196.00 were misapplied for the celebration of AFRIMA, Kundum Festival, and other activities,” it stated.
According to the audit report, an amount of GH¢73,000.00 was paid as additional expenditure or for the then Minister’s trip to the Volta Region from 15th to 18th June 2018.
On 7th March 2018, GH¢13,296.00 was paid as an accountable imprest for the Minister at the time, Catherine Afeku, to travel to the Western Region on official assignment.
There was also a payment of an allowance for the opening panel for procurement of vehicle on 3rd May 2018 at the cost of GH¢ 900.00.
The audit report also mentioned the release of GHS100,000.00 to Palm Media Ghana Ltd. for the launch of AFRIMA 2018 on 17th-19th May 2018, and GHS200,000 to support Kundum Festival from 1st – 9th September 2018.