Newly appointed Minister of Tourism Patricia de Lille on Friday cautioned the South African Tourism board not to go ahead with the Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship deal.
In her first press conference in her new role, De Lille revealed that she had sought legal advice on the deal, which revealed that it was unlawful and invalid.
Board members of South African Tourism (SA Tourism) had met with Tottenham in January to discuss the sponsorship deal and had subsequently approved a proposal that was subject to due consultation with the Minister of Tourism and National Treasury.
De Lille acknowledged the variety of considerations taken into account over the matter, which led to significant public outcry owing to its proposed R1-billion cost.
She explained that the deal was a procurement event that did not comply with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Further, the sponsorship had not been budgeted in terms of the PFMA which would mean that the expenditure would be invalid or unauthorised under the PFMA.
“It appears that the sponsorship is a service which was proposed to be acquired by procurement through “sole source”. Sole source procurement is, however, only allowed where there is no competition in the market and only one supplier is able to provide the goods or services, which does not appear to be the case here,” De Lille explained.
While she noted the importance of the tourism sector becoming a major contributor to the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, she cautioned that public money must be spent wisely and prudently.
“Given the circumstances we find ourselves in economically we have to be much more careful and take careful consideration of everything that we do as government,” she stated.
De Lille reminded the public that SA Tourism was a marketing agency within the Department of Tourism, therefore, she argued that constructive discussions between members of the SA Tourism board, herself, National Treasury and other relevant stakeholders must take place.
The SA Tourism board responded to De Lille’s legal opinion on Friday, despite being given until March 29 to issue a response. The Minister expressed that she was still considering the merits of the board’s response.
De Lille is also awaiting response from the Finance Minister to ascertain whether he had approved the proposal or transaction.
“As a country, when we enter into such massive partnerships, it is vital that we are able to be fully accountable, that we are transparent and can answer South Africans clearly and honestly. Based on the board chairperson’s interim response received this morning 24 March 2023, my advice to the SA Tourism board is that the proposal may as well be stopped completely,” she ended.
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