'Unlawful and invalid': Patricia de Lille says Spurs deal must be stopped 'immediately'

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  • Patricia de Lille wants the South African Tourism board to "immediately" stop the controversial Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship deal.
  • De Lille listed several reasons why the deal was unlawful and invalid.
  • The board proposed a three-year deal with the English Premier League side worth £42.5 million (about R900 million).

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has advised the South African Tourism (SAT) board to "immediately" stop the controversial Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship deal. 

On Friday, De Lille addressed the media on the proposed three-year deal with the English Premier League side, worth £42.5 million (about R900m), meant to run from the beginning of the 2023/24 season until the end of the 2026/27 season. 

She said that following her appointment as tourism minister, she had expressed her commitment to working harder to advance the sector and hit the ground running. 

"The tourism sector is a major one for our country as we boast some of the world's most beautiful natural landscapes, a diverse mix of cultures, experiences, and our best asset, our people. 

READ | SA Tourism acting CFO resigns amid Tottenham Hotspur deal controversy

"Of course, one of the key matters in this portfolio, which I have inherited, is that of the Tottenham Hotspur FC and SA Tourism Sponsorship Proposal, which has been in the public domain for a few weeks."

Given the country's economic circumstances, De Lille said, there had to be a much more careful consideration of everything the government did. 

She added:

Money must always be spent wisely and prudently, as we are entrusted with the public's funds.

De Lille said a presentation from Tottenham had been made to several SAT officials in December 2022 in South Africa. SAT board members then travelled to London between 12 and 17 January 2023. 

On 27 January 2023, the board considered the proposed sponsorship with Tottenham and asked management to address certain aspects and table an amended proposal. 

The SAT board approved the proposal on 31 January 2023, she said. 

"The approval was subject to due consultation with the Minister of Tourism and National Treasury. The matter also served before the Portfolio Committee on Tourism on 21 February 2023." 

De Lille said she had immediately sought and obtained legal advice regarding the matter after her appointment. 

Based on that advice, she listed three reasons why the deal was "unlawful and invalid":
  • The sponsorship was a procurement event that did not comply with Section 217 of the Constitution, the Treasury instructions issued in terms of the Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999 (PFMA), and SA Tourism's own Supply Chain Management Policy. It appeared that the sponsorship was a service that was proposed to be acquired by procurement through "sole source". Sole source procurement is, however, only allowed where there is no competition in the market and only one supplier can provide the goods or services, which did not appear to be the case here. 
  • The sponsorship had not been budgeted as required by Section 53 of the PFMA, and the expenditure thereon would be irregular or unauthorised within the meaning of those terms in the PFMA.
  • The deal amounts to a "significant partnership transaction", which required my prior approval in terms of Section 54 (2) of the PFMA.

She said she had written to the SAT board on 22 March, asking for their response. The board has until 29 March 2023 to respond. 

De Lille said she had considered the deal and the public outcry. 

"This matter has been marred by a lot of controversy and has raised many questions, and we need to resolve this matter decisively and in the best interest of the people of South Africa as soon as possible. 

"My advice to the board, considering all the factors and the priorities we need in our country, we owe the public an explanation. My advice to the board is to stop the deal immediately."

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