Pretoria – Executive mayor Solly Msimanga has appealed to the public to invest in the Tshwane Open golf tournament as the city could no longer prioritise the event.
“It is incredibly important for me to say upfront that the city cannot prioritise the sporting event that is the Tshwane Open going forward."
“This is why we have invited you all here today to encourage you to invest in this golf tournament that has the potential to make the capital a premier sporting destination,” Msimanga said on Tuesday.
He was speaking during a media briefing at the municipal offices in Centurion.
The audience included the chairman of the Pretoria Country Club, Nicky Bloem, the chief executive officer of the Pretoria Country Club Vivian van Wyk and executive director of the Sunshine Tour, Selwyn Nathan.
“It is important to us to heed the gravity of the realities before the capital."
"At the apex of these realities is the paramount need to provide the services that our people so desperately need that were neglected by the previous administration,” Msimanga said.
He took a shot at the previous ANC-led administration headed by former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, who fully supported the tournament.
“From the very start of the Tshwane Open, our aim was to showcase our city to a greater international audience and promote our tourism potential."
"We are delighted to once again be showcasing the capital to the world,” Ramokgopa said last year at the beginning of the tournament."
Msimanga said the core function of the government was to provide services to the South African people, which is what he was trying to do with the limited resources the city had.
“As you all may already know, the city faces a R2 billion deficit, crumbling infrastructure and corruption to the detriment of our people.”
Msimanga said his intention to invest in the tournament was in the spirit of private-public partnerships.
Also, to alleviate the pressure on the city’s purse, he added.
“I cannot, in good conscience, spend millions of public funds on this event when our city is in need of total rehabilitation to make it great again.”
Among the things he wanted to do with the city’s funds was to replace the ageing water infrastructure, recruit more agents to join the Tshwane Metro Police Department. Also, to improve the public transport system and mitigate power cuts.
Last year the tournament was able to garner R916 million in media coverage.
This year’s tournament takes place from March 2 to 5 at the Pretoria Country Club in Waterkloof.
The 72-hole stroke play championship will feature a total of 156 international and local professional golfers.
A new feature has been added where 15 amateur golfers would take on professionals in a feature called the Audi Beat the Best Competition.
The tournament forms part of the 2017 Sunshine Tour and is co-sanctioned with the European Tour.
The 2017 prize money is R16.5m.
Last year’s winner is 2011 Masters Tournament winner Charl Schwartzel.