Cape Town - MPs were left fuming on Wednesday after two SA Tourism board members snubbed a meeting to consider the 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan (APP).
In a media statement, the portfolio committee on tourism expressed serious concern over the no-show of two of the three current interim SA Tourism board members.
The committee held its scheduled meeting at Inkosi Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban – the venue where Africa’s Travel Indaba is currently taking place.
“A decision was taken to hold the meeting there to accommodate SA Tourism, whose board members in turn decided not to attend the meeting,” the committee said.
“The committee felt undermined by this behaviour, as the two board members had earlier been at same the venue with the committee in another event. The two board members said they will meet the committee at another time that suits them.
“The Department of Tourism transfers 53% of its budget to SA Tourism and it is therefore important for the committee to consider its APP to assess how the funds will be spent.
“This is even more important when considering that SA Tourism has recently been embroiled in the proposed R1-billion Tottenham Hotspur sponsorship deal, which was stopped by the committee through its robust oversight over the entity.”
The committee said it was concerned about the implications of giving a budget to an entity whose board “does not take its work seriously”.
The committee said there were no executive staff members to manage the budget if appropriated, as SA Tourism has no chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief marketing officer or chief strategy officer.
“The committee believes that all three interim board members need to be present when it considers SAT’s APP because it is the same board that will be playing an oversight role on SA Tourism’s performance, and be accountable to both the Department of Tourism and as the committee.
“Furthermore, although acknowledging the minister’s prerogative to appoint an interim board in terms of section 16(3)(b) of the Tourism Act, following the dissolution of the full-time board, the committee reiterated its previous recommendation to at least have a five-member board in order to provide effective leadership to SA Tourism.”
Committee chairperson Thandi Mahambehlala said: “We are in a situation where there is no leadership stability at SA Tourism, which requires urgent attention because the entity cannot be allowed to fail. We are going to escalate matters relating to this entity to the Leader of Government Business, through the speaker’s office.”