/ 6 July 2010

Manuel defends Cup tickets splurge

A distinction should be made between parastatals and state departments spending money on Soccer World Cup tickets, Minister in the National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel said on Monday.

This follows an outcry over state entities spending millions on soccer tickets.

Manuel said parastatals were business entities that needed to make profits by engaging on a social level with clients.

“Some of the parastatals are business entities and these business entities have to run themselves in a particular way.

“We mustn’t hyperventilate when the national airline takes tour operators and builds a relationship with them, because that is building the business.

“When you take a local authority or a government department and they spend taxpayers’ money on themselves it’s a different issue.”

Big spenders
The Sunday Times reported that Eskom, which has been embroiled in a wage dispute, spent R12-million on World Cup tickets.

Ayanda Noah, Eskom’s managing director of distribution, told the M&G that Eskom bought 1 110 tickets during 2009 and 2010. Of these, about 700 were hospitality tickets, valued at about R17 000 each. The remaining 400 were for general seating.

The executive decision to purchase the tickets was taken in November 2008, only four months before the end of the financial year that saw Eskom hit its biggest loss of R9,7-billion.

Eskom’s dire financial situation led to the parastatal asking the World Bank this year for a R27-billion loan to maintain the country’s supply of electricity.

South African Airways spent R23-million on tickets, two months before getting a R1,6-billion bail-out from the government.

PetroSA and Transnet jointly spent R24-million and the Free State provincial government and the Mangaung municipality spent almost R22-million on tickets.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has described the purchases as “outrageous” and on Monday reportedly called for a probe into government and state-owned entities’ spending on tickets.

It’s the most selfish way of spending money and it is recklessness of the worst kind,” Cosatu eneral Secretary Zwelenzima Vavi said.

“We are appealing to workers to act in the national interest, when their managers are acting in the most selfish way,” Vavi was quoted as saying.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), representing about half of Eskom’s 32 000 staff, said none of its members benefitted from the hospitality tickets.

“Only the executives and their wives and their children received tickets,” NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said. — Sapa, Reuters