Postponed: Brand SA & SA Tourism proposed merger


01 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms T Mahambehlala (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Tourism did not allow the Department of Tourism to make its presentation on progress made in the merger between SA Tourism (SAT) and Brand South Africa. This was because the Minister was not present. The Committee berated the Minister for her constant absence, despite numerous requests, undermining the work of the Committee and treating Members with disrespect. The Committee agreed to invoke sections of the Constitution to compel the Minister to appear before the Committee. The Committee felt aggrieved that Brand SA was advertising calls for board members when the merger had not yet been completed – Members felt their oversight work was being overwhelmed as progress of the merger had not been presented. Members felt more respected by former minister of tourism.

Meeting report

The Chairperson, in her introductory remarks, said not a single Member had a copy of the presentation, and she was not accepting the apology from the Minister, who has not been attending Committee meetings even after numerous requests. She said the Executive would not delay the draft programmes of the Committee.

She then read the Committee a request for a postponement of the meeting from the Minister. She said the Executive thinks the Committee is there to rubberstamp its decisions. She also pointed out the BrandSA advertisement recruiting people to be members of the board was undermining the work of the Committee because the merger of the two entities – BrandSA and SA Tourism (SAT) – was not yet complete and SAT has just appointed an interim board.

She said the previous ministers of tourism had respect for the Committee. The apologies from the Minister were not acceptable because she tends to send apologies to the Chairperson of the Committee instead of the Committee Secretary.

This was why the Chairperson suggested section 56 of the Constitution be invoked to summon the Minister to appear before the Committee. People who respect the work of the Committee always submit their apologies on time. The Executive would not compromise the work of the Committee. Additionally, those who were supposed to present to the Committee today were not present. There would be no presentation today. She asked for the opinions of Members.

Ms M Gomba (ANC) said her serious concern was around the continuous apologies from the Minister, especially at this time of the year when as a Committee, they want to see the tourism sector grow. Undermining the Committee is something very serious. She supported the suggestion for the invocation of section 56 of the Constitution to summon the Minister to account before the Committee; and further proposed that BrandSA and SAT be invited to present their state of readiness for the merger.

Mr A Matumba (EFF) said during the September meeting, the matter of the merger was discussed. The Committee was told of the memo sent to the President. The engagement between BrandSA and SAT about the merger gave the impression progress was happening. The Committee was also informed the Minister was not pleased with the appointment of the CEO before the completion of the merger. He further indicated tourism had been used as a bigger primary part of the economy for job creation. It is an economic driver. Hence it needs to be treated with respect, not as a sideshow. He pointed out that section 42 of the Constitution states that Members of Parliament are public representatives and should account to the people of SA. If you do not want to account to the Committee, it means you do not want to account to the people of SA.

Ms P Mpushe (ANC) said during the tenure of former Minister Kubayi, the Committee was never disrespected. The Committee only wants to know from the Minister about the processes to be followed for the smooth transition of the merger between BrandSA and SAT. If she cannot account as a minister, how is she going to account as a President of the country because she has ambitions to become President? The Committee could not engage with SAT because the political principals were not in the meeting. The Committee was not aware of the processes that led to the appointment of the interim board. She supported the idea of invoking section 46 of the Constitution, to not approve the budget proposals of the Department if the Committee continues to be undermined.

Ms S Maneli (ANC) said the Committee was to blame for the situation because it allowed this to happen. Although it did not know it would come to this point. Her concern was the BrandSA advertisement because the merger had not been finalised.

Mr M De Freitas (DA) suggested the cancelled presentation should be included in the programme of the Committee for a later date.

The Chairperson told the Committee she was closing the matter and would be invoking section 56 of the Constitution so that Minister Sisulu could appear before the Committee and account for some matters raised by the AG, the merger between BrandSA and SAT, and international work. She said the board of SAT should have been kept as it was instead of appointing an interim board until the merger of the two entities was finalised.

The Chairperson then released the Department from the meeting.

Committee minutes

The Committee considered and adopted the 25 October 2022 minutes with no amendments.

It further entertained the correspondence from the National Heritage Project (NHP) and agreed it would attend the event so that it could make its own observations. This would be coupled with an oversight visit to Robben Island to witness its dilapidation so that it could be rehabilitated to its former glory.

The meeting was adjourned.


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