Cash-strapped Eskom, SAA splurge on tickets
Wild spending on Cup games uncovered in parastatals, provinces
Jul 4, 2010 12:00 AM
Prega Govender, Sunday Times
Government departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises have splurged over R110-million on World Cup tickets and hospitality packages. This is more than double what has been publicly declared.
Eskom - which is locked in last-minute negotiations to avoid a potentially disastrous strike by staff - is one of several parastatals who collectively spent a staggering R80-million. The embattled power utility alone splashed out R12-million.
South African Airways bought 1749 tickets just two months before receiving a R1.6-billion bailout from the government, in December 2008. It is the biggest spender on World Cup tickets so far, laying out R23-million.
PetroSA and Transnet jointly spent R24-million, while the Free State provincial government and the Mangaung municipality in the province collectively spent almost R22-million.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday slammed the spending as outrageous.
"It's the most selfish way of spending money and it is recklessness of the worst kind," he said.
"We are appealing to workers to act in the national interest, when their managers are acting in the most selfish way."
"This is what is sickening about the whole thing. Workers can't get a housing allowance, yet Eskom spends millions on tickets." He said very few parastatals were in a healthy financial position.
"SAA is hardly recovering from disastrous years of bailouts from government. I don't think they are out of the woods yet, but they have the audacity to buy tickets."
SAA spokesman Fani Zulu said the airline had dished out 1633 tickets to international and regional tour operators, used 20 tickets for a staff competition, and given 68 to SAA sales teams and executives, and 28 to needy children.
He said the airline had not spent money on flights for guests, or accommodation.
"SAA also used the hospitality packages to enhance its brand value, especially among tour operators, to enhance sales of flight tickets during the tournament."
Eskom's R12-million spending on World Cup tickets comes amid a threat by its 32000-strong workforce to embark on strike action from tomorrow.
Workers are demanding a 9% wage increase and a monthly housing allowance of R2500.
Lesiba Seshoka, spokesman for the National Union of Mineworkers, said: "The reality is that not a single Eskom worker received any of these tickets. Only the executives and their wives and children received tickets."
He said the money spent on tickets could have been used to award incentives to workers.
Transnet spokesman John Dludlu said the money spent on the World Cup was part of the company's efforts to "strengthen relationships with stakeholders", including its top 20 revenue earners.
Other state and parastatal World Cup spenders include:
- SA Tourism: R918973;
- the Industrial Development Corporation, R12-million;
- the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: R314990;
- the Government Employees Medical Scheme: R65400;
- the SABC: R3.3-million; Sentech: R1-million;
- and the SA Post Office: R800000.
At least 28 government departments said they had not bought any tickets (the departments of Correctional Services, International Relations and Mineral Resources failed to respond to questions). Telkom , which bought a limited number of "hospitality access" tickets, refused to divulge the amount it had spent.
The total of R111.4-million known to have been spent by departments, municipalities and parastatals is bound to increase once they are compelled to release figures in due course .
The Sunday Times also confirmed that:
- The Free State provincial government spent R6.8-million for 15900 category four tickets for indigent families and farming communities. This was in addition to the R15-million worth of tickets that Mangaung executive mayor, Playfair Morule, bought for the city's residents;
- The Gauteng provincial government spent R4-million on 4613 tickets, of which more than 3000 were distributed to schools, orphanages, special homes and amateur football clubs;
- Mbombela municipality in Nelspruit spent R730520 for 775 category one, two and three tickets. Seventy-one councillors were each given two tickets;
- Mpumalanga's Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture spent R1.2-million for 200 hospitality packages;
- Tshwane municipality spent R500000 for 1200 tickets which were given to staff, business people, sports personalities, politicians and academics; and
- The Eastern Cape's Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture spent R278160 for 192 tickets, distributed to mainly unemployed youth responsible for co-ordinating sport and recreational activities in communities.
The Limpopo and Western Cape provincial governments said they did not spend any money on World Cup tickets and packages.
KwaZulu-Natal, which hosted several VIP guests, including Crown Prince Felipe of Spain and Katherine Ellis, Australia's minister of sport, refused to divulge how much it had spent on World Cup tickets, saying a comprehensive report would be made available to the provincial cabinet after the World Cup.
Earlier in the week it was revealed that the national Department of Trade and Industry spent R4.7-million for 200 tickets as well as hospitality packages, and the Department of Science and Technology spent R25200 for 10 category one tickets.
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