ANC votes to throw a R2.5 million party for the tourism industry amid retrenchments

Issued by Cllr. Bheka Ntuli – DA eThekwini Economic Development and Planning Committee Member
08 Jun 2021 in Press Statements

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini today calls on the Deputy City Manager, Phillip Sithole, officials in the Hospitality and Tourism Unit and the ANC in the Economic Development Committee to reconsider the proposed tourism industry party that will cost the city a staggering amount of R2.5 million.

At an Economic Development and Planning Committee Meeting, the ANC voted to throw a series of events leading up to a fine dining ceremony where they plan to award “certificates” to tourism sector companies in eThekwini that are performing. The DA believes that the R2.5 million will be spent on an elaborate series of events that will ultimately not benefit the ailing sector.

Many businesses in the hospitality/tourism sector, from the top to the bottom of the value chain, have taken strain due to Covid-19 and the ANC’s draconian lockdown regulations. If there is anything that the tourism sector would expect from the municipality, it would be for it to effectively promote Durban as a go-to destination during these uncertain times. The least the municipality could do is spend this R2.5 million to assist and support tourism businesses since revenue has been catastrophically impacted.

Businesses in the tourism sector are either converting permanent employment to contracts and temporary employment agreements, completely retrenching or even shutting down completely because they can no longer afford to pay their staff and operate under the difficult economic conditions.

The ANC opted to waste money on a series of events leading up to an “Annual Durban Tourism Awards” event. The details of the event and our objections are as follows:

  • The proposal indicates that there will be a launch event – the DA questioned which tourism sector companies would benefit from this and how this event would be done under the current Covid-19 regulations.
  • The proposal indicates that there will be judges – we pointed out that these judges would not work for free and that this would require additional funding.
  • Roadshows – we questioned the practicality and need for this given the current climate.
  • Workshop – another lump sum of money flying out of the municipality budget in the name of tourism that will not benefit any company in the tourism sector.
  • There is going to be a “main event” awards ceremony. This will be nothing more than handing out certificates and fine dining – we questioned the need and the practicality including the cost-benefit to the hospitality industry in eThekwini.

It has to be clear, the DA wishes to see companies in the tourism industry being acknowledged and marketed, however this event does not achieve that. Instead, it empowers only a connected few at the expense of an industry already bleeding thousands of jobs in the city.

The DA would support a call that ensures these finances directly empower affected business in the tourism sector and their employees who are losing their livelihoods at an alarming rate.

The DA in eThekwini will therefore oppose this proposal in favour of expenditure that offers real empowerment and is not an excuse to offer up event tenders to comrades.