President Cyril Ramaphosa will not back South African Tourism’s US$58-million proposed sponsorship of the English football club Tottenham Spur in a deal meant to promote the country’s Covid-19 battered tourism industry, APA learnt on Saturday.Under the plan, the tourism agency’s branding would appear on the high-flying Premier League side’s outfit.
Presidential spokesman Vincent MagwenyaMagwenya said that Ramaphosa had not been briefed on the matter before the press made public the lucrative sponsorship deal.
“We do not think spending so much money in the manner that is being suggested will be justified,” Magwenya said.
South African Tourism chief executive Themba Khumalo defended the plan, which he said had won preliminary approval by the agency’s board, saying returns would dwarf costs.
The deal was aimed at attracting foreign currency and visitors to boost the country’s battered tourism industry, which has not fully recovered since the coronavirus pandemic, Khumalo said.
However, three South African Tourism board members — Enver Duminy, Ravi Nadasen and Rosemary Anderson — resigned from the board with immediate effect over the deal.
“Resulting from a difference of opinion, Nadasen, Duminy and Anderson’s resignations were tendered to Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and South African Tourism board chair Aubrey Mhlongo,” the trio said in a statement.
Sisulu, a political foe of Ramaphosa, also distanced herself from the proposal, denying reports she had been the driving force behind it.
“Minister Sisulu is still waiting for a report and a briefing,” a ministry statement said.
Lawmaker Manny de Freitas of the opposition Democratic Alliance party said the deal was “a slap in the face of every South African”, and suggested the funds should be used “to buy diesel to alleviate” power cuts.