SA Tourism Acting CEO Themba Khumalo has come out guns blazing to defend the sleeve sponsorship proposal for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, which is said to be worth nearly R1 billion.
Earlier in the week, a report by Daily Maverick brought light to the intentions of SA Tourism to partner with Spurs in a three-year deal worth £42.5 million over three years — which converts to R910,997,814.75 (exchange rate Tuesday, 31 January 2023).
However, the proposal which is said to be close to finalisation has been met with a huge backlash in South Africa, while the country is in the middle of a huge energy and unemployment crisis, with many people insisting the money should rather be spent on fixing the issues inside the country.
However, Khumalo came out and insisted his department’s proposal comes from a completely different department in the government, which has nothing to do with the other issues.
“You know, R950 million, R1 billion, R1.2 billion… If we are going to invest in that region, around R1 billion to get R88 billion, that’s the P&L that we’re looking at – that’s the profit and loss that we are looking at,” he said during a media briefing to “set the record straight” that was attended by iDiski Times.
“It is a solid business case that has got a direct impact, in terms of foreign investment that comes into the country that is able to then create jobs, sustain SMMEs and be able to return you know, the dignity or a better life to our people around South Africa.
“So, let me look straight into camera and say this to all South Africans: The money that’s invested in tourism is not the same money that’s required for energy, is not the same amount of money that is required for potholes.
“There are other departments that are dedicated and are given that mandate by legislation. Our legislative mandate is not about that. Our legislative mandate is about persuading international people to travel into the country and spend money in our economy.
“And that is one we will speak to, whether it is through this initiative or any other initiative, but that is what we are mandated to do. That is what we’re paid to do and that is what we will continue to do until we are told otherwise.”
Khumalo also insisted that his department are targeting football lovers who watch the Premier League either at the stadium or on tv and have the money to travel to South Africa.
“It’s got to do with accessing the aggregated audiences that football brings. That’s who we are after,” he added.
“We’re after the viewers of football, the followers of football that have got the spend and the willingness to travel into our destination.
“So the whole narrative and we’ll come to why we are in this narrative. Somebody maliciously leaked confidential documentation into the press, prematurely while the discussion was still being had.
“We’re going to zone in on that on another day but this is not about football. So the whole conversation about we are supporting Team A and not Team B is a misguided conversation.
“We are accessing the audience in the British Premier League. We are accessing it so that we can persuade them to travel to South Africa, to spend Pounds, Euro, Dollars, Yen in our destination and bring dignity back to our people.
“That is what we are doing. It’s about the aggregated audiences. Sports and entertainment is the second biggest aggregator of audiences.”