South Africa’s tourism industry currently contributes about 3% to the country’s GDP, which is less than half of its pre-Covid levels. The government does intend to restore and even grow the tourism industry to pre-plandemic levels and as part of its plan is a controversial deal with English Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club. The deal is valued at almost R1bn, which is almost a third of the country’s tourism budget.
The controversial deal sparked outrage from some sectors of society who believe the funds could have been channeled towards South Africa’s socio-economic challenges such as load-shedding and water supply shortages or even developing our infrastructure.
According to the acting CEO of South African Tourism, Themba Khumalo, the R1bn deal will yield R88bn over the next three years. Despite this, the deal has sparked public outrage with some comparing it to the short-lived plan by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to erect a giant South African in Pretoria at a cost of R22-million.
A similar deal was struck by Rwanda and Arsenal in 2019. Emblazoned on shirtsleeves, on training equipment and during home matches, on the advertising boards surrounding the pitch.
This is the exposure that a £10million-per-year sponsorship agreement guarantees the Rwandan government with football’s wealthiest clubs to promote their tourist board’s message: ‘Visit Rwanda’.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is expected to brief President Cyril Ramaphosa about the highly criticised R910m deal to partner with Tottenham Hotspur. However, presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya has already said the deal was unjustifiable. Speaking on the deal, Sisulu said that the agreement does not require her permission therefore absolving her of any responsibility over the deal.
The sponsorship deal comes shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to the United Kingdom. Considering her history of open battle against Ramaphosa, could this deal be a planned sabotage against her leadership as Minister of Tourism? Response over the deal both from the public and members over government could usher Sisulu out of government.
Over the years, Sisulu has openly spoken about the mistakes she believes President Cyril Ramaphosa made during his tenure.