Failing SOEs spent millions on Cup tickets

2010-07-07 14:00

State transport entities spent R19 million on World Cup tickets,

Transport Minister Sibusisu Ndebele said today.

This brings the total spent on match seats by the government and

parastatals to nearly R130 million.

Ndebele said the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) paid

R10.8m for 4 570 tickets.

It had originally hoped to acquire more than 50 000 tickets to sell

as part of rail-travel packages but Fifa could not confirm a booking of that

size.

According to Ndebele, the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa)

spent R4.67m on 170 tickets for six World Cup soccer matches including the

opening match and Sunday’s final.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) set aside R2.2m

for tickets for stakeholders and high-performing staff members and the Air

Traffic and Navigation Services spent R1.4m on tickets to invite stakeholders

like Namibia’s permanent transport secretary to matches.

Ndebele also revealed that struggling entities purchased tickets

for last year’s Fifa Confederations Cup.

The Road Accident Fund, which said its backlog of R40 billion in

claims would have to be financed by a cash injection from government, paid R1.8m

for 600 tickets for the 2009 tournament.

The government warned departments before the tournament not to

waste money on tickets. Revelations of their purchases have sparked an

outcry.

The Democratic Alliance said: “It is particularly an issue of

concern that Prasa would see fit to spend such an exorbitant amount on

entertainment purposes when, by its own admission, it recently revealed that it

needs R100 billion in the next 10 to 12 years to prevent South Africa’s

passenger rail services from collapsing.”

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan warned that the purchases amounted

to irregular expenditure in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and that

accounting officers could be held personally liable and charged with financial

misconduct.

Most of the money, some R80 million, was spent by semi-state

entities, some of which have in recent years needed massive bail-outs from the

state to survive.

Eskom, which has been embroiled in a wage dispute that nearly

resulted in a strike in the last week of the tournament, spent R12 million on

World Cup tickets.

South African Airways spent R23 million on match seats, just two

months before getting a R1.6 million bail-out from government.

The state broadcaster (SABC) splurged R3.3 million on tickets.

PetroSA and Transnet jointly spent R24 million and the Free State provincial

government and the Mangaung municipality spent almost R22 million on

tickets.

National departments that bought tickets included trade and

industry, which spent R4.7 million.

Congress of SA Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has

criticised the purchases as a “most selfish way of spending money” while workers

were asked to temper their wage demands in the national interest.

The chairperson of Parliament’s standing committee on public

accounts, Themba Godi, has vowed to hold to account departments that flaunted

the finance management act.

However, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel has pleaded for

understanding for parastatals that bought tickets, saying some were business

entities that needed to make profits by socialising with clients.

He said: “We mustn’t hyperventilate when the national airline takes

tour operators and builds a relationship with them, because that is building the

business.

When you take a local authority or a government department and they

spend taxpayers’ money on themselves it’s a different issue.”



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