According to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s chief of staff, the deal was proposed long before Sisulu joined the ministry and it hasn’t seen the light of day.
OFFICIALS at the ministry of tourism have labelled a ‘Daily Maverick’ article suggesting that the ministry’s marketing agency, SA Tourism (SAT), is preparing to enter into a deal to sponsor English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur to the tune of R910 million as nothing but a revival of the publication’s “campaign against the minister”.
According to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s chief of staff, Bomanye Ntshona, this deal was proposed long before Sisulu joined the ministry and hasn’t seen the light of day.
The ‘Daily Maverick’ claims to have seen documents and a PowerPoint presentation detailing the workings of this multimillion-dollar sponsorship that would see the department partner with the English football team for a period of 36 months.
The publication reports that in a document marked “Company Confidential”, this first presentation was allegedly given by SA Tourism’s acting CEO, Themba Khumalo, on January 27, 2023.
A close source within the minister’s office said the minister wasn’t even aware of this deal, which has been brought to her attention without a formal brief.
“I had a lengthy discussion with the minister about this rubbish. She did not even know at the time that the board had gone to work on this deal. I can’t say much here, but fortunately I was acting chief of staff at the time,” Ntshona said in a WhatsApp message.
The minister’s adviser, Mphumzi Mdekazi, accused the publication of trying to revive its campaign against the minister.
“Daily Maverick is reviving their campaign against the minister. This has nothing to do with her. Boards discuss projects all the time, but no deal has been done,” he said.
On social media, organisations such as OUTA and ordinary South Africans reacted with disgust at the reports of this possible sponsorship, calling it a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“SA Tourism wants to spend close to R1 billion to sponsor the British soccer team. Just think what else can be done with that money?” OUTA said.
Sisulu’s spokesperson, Steve Motale, said under normal circumstances, proposals were processed by a project team and sent through to the executive committee before being presented to the SA Tourism Board. He added that the board was independent and the minister didn’t interfere with its decisions.
“In the previous portfolios (in which) Minister Sisulu has served since the dawn of democracy, her contribution speaks for itself. Even the ‘Daily Maverick’, through its source, indicates that this proposal dates back to 2017, of which the minister held a different portfolio.
“Essentially, the SAT proposal is to conclude a memorandum of understanding with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. It is non-binding. Such a proposal must still pass the muster within the tourism ministry and is subject to the concurrence of the national Treasury,” Motale said.
Motale said the minister was currently in consultation with her legal team to find a way forward regarding this matter.