South Africa

South Africa

Spurs, Tourism, Your tax Rands – To Dare is to Do (badly) 🐓

Spurs, Tourism, Your tax Rands – To Dare is to Do (badly) 🐓
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

If you were tired of the crippling blackouts and the dissolution of coalition politics in Johannesburg, Lindiwe Sisulu and SA Tourism offered you something else to nibble on this week. Tottenham's branding.

… Said nobody in South Africa who wasn’t directly involved in the shenanigans over at the Department of Tourism…

In a nutshell, because we’re going to break it down story by story later, a near-R1bn proposal has been made, and apparently nigh-on-finalised, to sponsor Tottenham Hotspur, the Premier League team notorious for missing out on winning. In branding alone then, this makes good sense for South Africa.

After all, if “missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity” was a country, it would be SA, and if it would be a football team, it might well be Spurs.

But the Son has not yet set on this saga, and some have argued that there might be some value to the sponsorship deal.

Personally I would have preferred the money be spent lobbying for visa-free travel and an unshackling from the cartel-like existence of visa agencies, but what do I know. I write newsletters, not billion-rand marketing pitches using your hard-earned money…

Like all good stories at Daily Maverick, this one begins with Rebecca Davis. More specifically, her bombshell article revealing the deal gleaned from leaked documents.

South Africa’s Department of Tourism has proposed a R1bn sponsorship of Tottenham Hotspur. The deal, if approved, will see the Premier League club’s shirts emblazoned with the “Meet South Africa” logo, as well as a host of other marketing initiatives aimed at boosting tourism to the country. Rebecca Davis

Read more

Sisulu naturally denied being the proponent of the deal, but confirmed that the deal was indeed on.

What ensued was an industrial-scale level of “why not spend that on…” conducted on a national scale. News24 gathered some nuggets, including Netball South Africa’s Cecilia Molokwane calling it “really insane”.

Never one to be called a slow Lloris on matters money, Business Maverick editor and After the Bell writer Tim Cohen mulled over whether the sponsorship could actually work. Spoiler: probably not.

After a blisteringly-poor press conference by SA Tourism CEO Themba Khumalo on Thursday, where SA Tourism maintained they did nothing wrong while simultanouesly launching a witch hunt against the leaker, Daily Maverick, and Rebecca Davis, did what we do best. Dig deeper.

On Friday, if you hadn’t Skipped First Thing, you would have noticed the latest chapter of Spurs-gate revealed that SA Tourism’s CFO Johan van der Walt was linked to an agency that would benefit from the deal.

Khumalo had explicitly stated that “no agencies” were involved as middlemen.

So, either SA Tourism does not know its arse from its elbow, or it assumes you the taxpaying South African does not. After all, how could we not understand the stupendously-simple value of this deal for, well, mostly the middle men that totally exist and are implicated in this deal.

For those still keen to see the silver lining in owning Harry Kane’s sleeve, there is some explanation below:


But the economics of this is missing the point a bit. Were we to wave a magic wand and have a right Royal fortune at our disposal, fix the societal ills of the country and generally be lekker, then sure, maybe investing in a team that has never won the Premier League is cool marketing concept.

But there is no magic wand, the country is stripped of resources, and while South Africans literally starve this kind of budgetary nonsense makes less sense than the pricing structure for Eskom’s diesel.

But Cohen’s explanation makes the best (or is it worst?) sense, where he ends by saying, “if you are in government and you don’t spend your budget, the finance minister has an unkind tendency to think you might not need it. So, at the end of the financial year, government departments are often in a flat spin to spend their budgets. And in this context, huge sponsorship deals are a godsend.”

If you spotted the four Spurs references from headline to now, give yourself a R1bn pat on the back 


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Gill Andrew says:

    What actually does Sisulu DO as minister since she seems to say it’s not anything to do with her? Is she just a figurehead or what?

  • Richard Bryant says:

    This confirms for me that Ramaphosa as President is showing no signs of leadership or direction. Because Sisulu claims she wasn’t involved but she clearly knew about it. Ramaphosa didn’t know and has now stated it cannot be justified. Surely each cabinet minister in putting together their budget for the year is given clear policy direction on what it should be used for. Particularly if it is as much as 1/3 of the total budget, it might have just got a mention?
    No, what we have is a directionless free for all funded by the taxpayer.

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