South Africa

SPURSGATE

SA Tourism Board left with no industry expertise

SA Tourism Board left with no industry expertise
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna)

The recent resignation of three members of the SA Tourism Board in response to the Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship controversy has seemingly left the board devoid of tourism expertise – while the DA says Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s haste to fill their positions was unlawful.

When seasoned tourism professionals Enver Duminy, Ravi Nadasen and Rosemary Anderson resigned from the SA Tourism Board, they took with them all the tourism experience on the board.

Duminy is the CEO of Cape Town Tourism. Nadasen is the former COO of Tsogo Sun Hotels. Anderson is the national chairperson of the hospitality industry body Fedhasa.

The three resigned in the first week of February amid growing controversy over the proposed R1-billion SA Tourism sponsorship of English football team Tottenham Hotspur, exposed by Daily Maverick.

The board members have not spoken publicly about the reasons for their resignation, beyond a short statement attributing it to a “difference of opinion”.

Although Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperson Steve Motale subsequently tried to claim that the resignations were related to “misconduct” around the Tottenham deal, Daily Maverick understands that the three had been vocal in their disapproval of the sponsorship proposal.

Tourism experts voice concern about board composition

Two tourism experts, both of whom wished to stay anonymous, expressed concern to Daily Maverick about the loss of Duminy, Nadasen and Anderson’s expertise.

“The three resignations have left the board without any representation from the tourism industry,” one said.

“If the Tourism Board won’t take guidance and advice from the only people who know anything about tourism, what does it say about their usefulness and commitment to improving tourism in this country?”

Attempting to confirm the current composition of the SA Tourism Board was in itself an uphill struggle, since the information on the SA Tourism website is out of date. To make matters more confusing, the board appears to have had at least three different chairs within as many months.

Daily Maverick was passed between the SA Tourism spokesperson and Sisulu’s spokesperson for over a week, but finally managed to obtain the updated list of board members. They are:

  • Thozamile Botha (Chair; former trade unionist);
  • Nandipha Mbulawa (businesswoman);
  • Lehlonolo Rapodile (auditor);
  • Mduduzi Zakwe (chartered accountant);
  • Hlubi Mazwayi (communications consultant);
  • Nondumiso Maphazi (gender commissioner);
  • Maudline Mabi (manager at the Eastern Cape rural development agency);
  • Leslie Reddy (IT consultant);
  • Manqoba Ngubo (entrepreneur);
  • Phinda Mhlongo (doctor and health entrepreneur); and
  • Odwa Mtati (CEO of the South African International Maritime Institute).

When Daily Maverick suggested to Sisulu’s spokesperson, Steve Motale, that the board was now worryingly light on dedicated tourism expertise, Motale responded:

“It’s so sad the three former members of SA [Tourism] board and their sympathisers have identified you as a partner to use in their agenda against SA Tourism and its board.” [Daily Maverick has in reality had no contact whatsoever with Duminy, Nadasen or Anderson.]

“For the record, these former board members were not pushed out of their positions; they resigned voluntarily. To answer your question, these former board members are not as indispensable and irreplaceable as you would want people to believe. Following their resignation, they were replaced by highly skilled and qualified new board members. In replacing them, Minister Sisulu went for people who are seriously strong on governance, with extensive board experience. As we speak, the SAT Board is stable and fully functional.”


Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations


Sisulu may have broken law in appointing new board members

Meanwhile, the DA said on Tuesday that it had emerged in Parliament’s Tourism Portfolio Committee that Sisulu had appointed replacement board members just four days after Duminy, Nadasen and Anderson’s resignations.

“The Tourism Act is clear in clause 13 (3) which prescribes that the Minister must, before appointing Board members, publish a minimum 30 days’ notice in the Government Gazette and in two national newspapers inviting nominations, and the same must be done after Board members have been appointed,” said the DA’s spokesperson for tourism, Manny de Freitas.

“This means that the prescripts and processes stipulated in the Act were not followed by the Minister. This potentially means that the three newly appointed members may well have been illegally appointed and that any decisions and resolutions made by the Board since the resignations may all be nullified.”

De Freitas said that the explanation given by Sisulu, as to why the board members had to be appointed in such haste, did not hold water.

“The Minister claims that she needed to urgently replace the three board members to ensure that there is a quorum so that the Tottenham Hotspur matter could be discussed. The Minister failed to explain why this was urgent in the first place, particularly considering that the Tottenham deal was only a proposal with no deadline attached to it.”

Sisulu has consistently disputed the claim, reported by Daily Maverick, that she had personally championed the Spurs deal.

Tourism Act also specifies necessary experience of board members

The Tourism Act of 2014 states that members of the SA Tourism Board should be appointed “on the basis of their knowledge, experience or qualifications relating to the functions of the board”.

The functions of the board are, among others, to “market South Africa as a domestic and international tourist destination”, to “develop and implement a marketing strategy for tourism”, and to “advise the Minister on any other matter relating to tourism”.

The board is also required to be “broadly representative of society, with due regard to race, gender and disability”.

SA Tourism CFO resigns after exposure of conflict of interest

On Tuesday evening, SA Tourism released a statement confirming a report in TimesLive earlier the same day that SA Tourism’s acting CFO, Johan van der Walt, had resigned.

Board Chair Thozamile Botha told TimesLive: “We sent him a letter for him to state reasons why he should not be suspended. Instead of responding to say why he should not be suspended, he resigned.”

SA Tourism confirmed that Van der Walt’s resignation had been accepted, and added that the entity’s financial manager, Themba Ndlovu, would act as CFO until a permanent CFO has been appointed.

“Beyond this statement, South African Tourism will not comment any further on this matter,” it said.

Van der Walt was exposed by Daily Maverick as having a significant conflict of interest in the proposed Spurs deal.

An agency for which he had previously worked as CFO, and with which he maintained active business ties, stood to cash in on a R31.3-million “activation” fee if the Spurs deal went through. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Richard Baker says:

    What is it with the people placed in positions of trust and authority that they are consistently doing the wrong thing? And then trying to defend their actions by attacking the questioners and side-stepping the issues. Shameful response from the wagging dog of a spokesperson and even more shameful from the serial failure of a minister!

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Why would you need ‘expertise’ in an organisation when you have Lindiwe ? She is all you need … like hole in the head ! Of all the becoming names mentioned on the list of eleven names supplied … Reddy sounds a bit fishy ! Is s/he ready for the ‘jump’ ?

  • William Stucke says:

    So, the “Princess” continues to do things her way, and the consequences (and good governance) be damned!

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Why not just appoint Lindiwe’s wig? Then she would never have to attend in person, and then could not be held up to ridicule?

    And is not the wig the repository of any real intelligence that sometimes gathers in closish proximity to wherever Lindiwe finds herself to be?

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Sisulu should have been ditched years ago. She has something called the ‘Sadim touch’, where everything she touches turns to shit. Seriously, I’m not even sure why we have a dedicated Ministry if there is already an institution that deals with tourism. What is the job of a minister of tourism? Apart from interfering politically, that is.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Breaking the rules to mend the breaking of the rules is typical fare for the ANC. Viva, ANC, Viva!

  • Paul Zille says:

    All while Cyril fiddles.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Competence has never been a criterion for appointment to a Board of any organisation run by the ANC, just fealty to the boss and a wink and a nudge when fat contracts come around. How Lindiwe Sisulu has remained at the apex of SA politics for so long is both bewildering and a testament to how rotten the system is: she has zero skills, just trades on her name. Mind you, looking at the current Cabinet, you’d have to say that at least she has a name to trade on! The bulk of the rest don’t even have that: just zero skills and arrogant bluster.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Hm if the tourism board is about to inveigle trade unionists, rural development officers, accountants, women activists and business owners from Russia, China etc then their experience might just pass muster for the job. Considering how woefully bad this board has been.. do we need them?

  • Confucious Says says:

    She is as useless as tits on a bull!

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Another part of the crumbling infrastructure in SA facilitated by a dithering President. This woman has shown him the middle finger for years without consequences.

  • Armin Schrocker says:

    absolutely incredible how dysfunctional things are these days and it is getting worse; with South Africa and in particular the Western Cape being strong in international tourism where is such expertise on the listed board of directors, where is the outlook and strategy to focus on our key markets overseas, namely North America, UK, Germany, EU. How is the budget spread accordingly, surely there are much better options than sponsoring a football club in England

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    11 board members, what do they do ?
    They get paid
    Below them is a CEO and an operational team (not sure how operational they are)
    And above them a minister with spokesperson etc etc
    What a waste of money

  • John Smythe says:

    Maybe a cabinet reshuffle with shuffle her out of the door.

  • Tim Price says:

    That’s the way the ANC likes it – clueless and empowered to loot freely.

  • J C says:

    Of all the inept Cabinet Ministers that have been forced upon us, this one has to be the most useless one. If she had any shame, she would resign, even it was just out of respect to her parents. She as “Royalty” would be first in line for the guillotine

  • Chris Marshall says:

    With 25 years experience in the tourism trenches I can honestly say that the tourism bureaucracies, including the relatively good ones in Cape Town and the Western Cape, are ineffective. Tourists now rely exclusively on online booking services that have fine grained data and reviews about individual tourism products. We have never been asked by any public tourism for information that might actually be of use to potential visitors.

  • Geoff Young says:

    I have absolutely no doubt that if the tourism ministry and board were disbanded overnight, with these unnecessary obstacles to progress removed it would be a boost to the tourism industry. Same applies to every other private industry sector where government gets in the way with pointless bureaucracy and performative politics to justify the bloated head count & salaries. Voetsek ANC!

  • Trevor Forbes says:

    According to SA government statistics, in 2019 1 in every 21 people employed in SA were in the formal tourism industry. In 2019 (pre-Covid) tourists from North America, Europe and Australia spent R43 billion compared with R4.7 billion from those arriving from Asia. Tourism contributed 6.5% of South Africa’s GDP in the same year. It seems the entire government, as well as the Minister for Tourism, is totally out of touch with South Africa’s economic well being. By cozying up t0 Russia (and China), the government is risking tourist arrivals from the three main sources of high spending tourism outside mainland Africa – the USA, UK and the rest of Europe. As well as being exceptionally short sighted, this so-called neutrality looks set to jeopardise the jobs of nearly 1 million South Africans. It is not only the Minister of Tourism that needs to be replaced!

  • Tony Romer-Lee says:

    “Stable and Fully functional” and devoid of any tourism knowledge / expertise… Ineptocracy in action and they will claim the success of an upturn in Tourism, which has nothing to do with anything SAT has done, unless “doing nothing” is the action….

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