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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

DA threatens to knock at Tottenham Hotspurs’ doors demanding answers over proposed R1bn tourism sponsorship

Rustenburg – The DA and ActionSA have rejected the proposed R1 billion sleeve sponsorship deal by SA Tourism for the English Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur.

Reports emerged on Wednesday that SA Tourism was on the brink of signing the mega sponsorship deal with ‘Spurs’.

The DA said SA Tourism’s plan to sponsor the London club was a slap in the face for SA’s taxpayers whose hard-earned tax would be used to sponsor a first-world football team.

“It is also an insult for the South African tourism and travel sector which was decimated, and in many cases completely destroyed, during and post-Covid,” said Manny de Freitas, DA spokesperson on tourism.

“A delegation from DA Abroad will this week go to the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in London to ascertain exactly what the status of this deal is and if any money has exchanged hands,” De Freitas said.

The DA said this money should rather be spent locally to improve the tourism sector so that it can thrive, create jobs and in turn contribute to the much-needed growth of South Africa’s economy.

ActionSA said that at a time when South Africa was facing an unprecedented energy crisis and rampant crime, scarce state resources should be used to address the most pressing needs of the nation.

“If we want to attract sustainable tourism to South Africa, we need to start by fixing these issues – not just an expensive PR campaign with questionable benefit,” said ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba.

“It is also questionable that this deal appears to be pushed through with much haste and alacrity before Minister (Lindiwe) Sisulu is reshuffled in Cabinet in the coming days, further raising suspicion behind the true motives of the deal.

“South Africans are all too familiar with ‘success fees’ that officials and politicians have earned from similar deals in the past. Sadly, one cannot evaluate any such proposal without questioning who the real financial beneficiaries will be.”

Mashaba said ActionSA fully supported the South African tourism industry and the potential it had to drive economic growth.

“But we believe that once we have fixed our key infrastructure, and can provide a safe and secure environment for everyone who visits our country, tourists will come to South Africa in their droves. There is no doubt we are blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and want to share that with the world.”

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

Meanwhile, a statement from Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said a report by the Daily Maverick on Wednesday regarding the R1bn proposal to sponsor Tottenham Hotspur was riddled with inaccuracies and untruths aimed at tarnishing Sisulu’s image.

“There is no doubt the report seeks to drive a political agenda rather to inform the public truthfully in line with journalism ethos.

“The reporter falsely claims that Minister Sisulu is forcing SA Tourism to push the deal through before she is moved from the tourism portfolio,” spokesperson Steve Motale said in a statement.

He said the reported deal was purely an SA Tourism board matter in which Sisulu has not been formally briefed.

“Like any other board, the SAT board is independent and Minister Sisulu does not interfere with its decisions.

“Proposals get received by SA Tourism and are processed by a project team, then are sent through to the executive committee before being presented to the SAT board.”

He said the proposal was to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

“It is non-binding. Such a proposal must still pass muster within the tourism ministry and is subject to the concurrence of National Treasury, to conform to government prescripts.

“With regard to this matter, Minister Sisulu is still awaiting for a report and to be briefed by SAT board as they are independent and take their own decisions on various matters. It is mischievous to relate this to the imminent Cabinet reshuffle.”



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