SA Tourism’s Spurs deal is ‘unlawful and invalid’: De Lille

 ·24 Mar 2023

Newly appointed Tourism minister Patricia De Lille says SA Tourism’s proposed R1 billion sponsorship with English Football team Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) should be stopped completely.

The proposal was met with serious backlash due to the high costs involved, with President Cyril Ramaphosa also criticising the deal.

De Lille said that she received legal advice regarding the deal shortly after her appointment, which stated that the deal was ‘unlawful and invalid’ for several reasons.

The deal is a procurement event and does not comply with section 217 of the constitution and SA Tourism’s supply chain management policy.

She added that the deal was a service proposed to be acquired via procurement through ‘sole-source’. However, sole-source procurement is only allowed when there is no competition in the market and only one supplier can supply the services – this is not the case in the Spurs deal.

Moreover, the deal has not been budgeted for as required by section 53 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

She added that she had written to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to see if the deal was approved.

Moreover, she wrote a letter to the tourism board to see if the deal had been formally cancelled.

Themba Khumalo, SA Toursim’s acting CEO, said that he could not state if the deal has been cancelled, as the board has been given until next Wednesday, 29 March to respond to the minister’s letter.

De Lille said that SA Tourism remains committed to growing SA tourism numbers but stressed that everything must be done in accordance with the law and due process.

SA Tourism previously said that the Premier League team’s global fan base could help meet a target to treble the nation’s visitor numbers to 21 million by 2030.

The deal was meant to mirror what other African countries have done, with Rwanda sponsoring Arsenal and Mauritius having a deal with Liverpool.

Tottenham does not currently have a tourism partner, and it is estimated that a deal could help market the country to over 600 million people.

“If you get 1% of people to travel here, that gives you an additional 6 million travellers,” Khumalo previously said.

“The deal that we are looking at has nothing to do with football, it’s got to do we accessing the aggregating audiences that football brings. When you do a deal at this scale it commands the attention of the world,”

However, the deal was also marred by SA Tourism’s former acting CFO Johan van der Walt’s links to an agency that would receive R33 million to initiate the sponsorship deal.

Read: How much it pays to be CEO at South Africa’s state-owned companies

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