The Portfolio Committee on Tourism has told South African Tourism (SAT) and the Minister of the Department of Tourism, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, that the R1 billion Tottenham Hotspur Football Club deal must be cancelled with immediate effect. Furthermore, the portfolio committee will investigate the deal.
The committee also said the Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who was headhunted for seven months, must tender his resignation with immediate effect as, during its engagement with the SAT, the committee discovered a conflict of interest pertaining to the Acting CFO. The committee will recommend that the R1 billion be reprioritised.
The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Tandi Mahambehlala, told Ms Sisulu that the committee derives its mandate from Parliament and thus has the right to put any project funded with money appropriated by Parliament on hold. This was in response to Ms Sisulu saying that only the President can stop the deal. Ms Mahambehlala made it categorically clear to Ms Sisulu that it is the executive that accounts to Parliament, not the other way round.
The SAT appeared before the committee yesterday to brief the committee on the R1 billion deal. The committee told the Minister and the SAT that there is no statistical basis for the claims that the Tottenham Hotspurs deal will deliver the 21 million tourist arrivals in 2030 and other objectives. Furthermore, there is no way that R1 billion of South Africa’s money can be used to pay for an international programme when poverty is deepening in South Africa.
The committee said the presentation it received from the Acting CEO of the SAT on the Tottenham Hotspur FC deal was underwhelming, full of contradictions and created more questions than answers. Ms Mahambehlala said according to the presentation, the South African Football Association (SAFA) was not listed among the stakeholders consulted on the deal. The exclusion of SAFA is incomprehensible and ridiculous, the Chairperson said.
The committee also asked Minister Sisulu about her level of knowledge of the Tottenham deal and a visit to the club. Committee members also asked questions about resignations and appointments of board members and the headhunting of senior managers at the SAT. In response, Minister Sisulu said she is unaware of the existence of the deal and that it cannot exist without the permission of the National Treasury and the President beyond a certain amount of money. On the headhunting of managers and the trip, she said those are not under her purview.