Isn’t it time for the tourism industry to start playing hardball with government? Maybe it’s time for the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA) to start a campaign for employers in the industry to start educating their employees about why they are losing their jobs. Jobs are being lost and more will be lost, because of the ANC’s financial mismanagement and incompetent government.
Even before the State of Disaster was announced, on 9 March 2020, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said at the in her address to the Tourism Leadership Forum, “Sadly, this outbreak is happening at a time when our economy is not doing well and has not been doing well for the past few years.
“Simply put, ladies and gentlemen, we do not have the resources to offset the damage that our economy will suffer because of this crisis.”
She also chairs the cabinet’s economic cluster, which has given South Africa… junk status, a falling economy, rising unemployment and a 30% drop in overseas visitor arrivals in 2019. Trillions of rands were stolen through State Capture and corruption; government policies are tanking the economy and driving unemployment; and the cupboard is bare. That’s the result of 26 years of ANC government. Can South Africa afford more of this kind of leadership?
It’s time to start educating the voters. According to a Presidency media release, the tourism and hospitality industry is the largest employer in the country. And most of those jobs have been, are being and will be lost. The TBCSA needs to start the biggest voter education campaign SA has ever seen. Where every employee in the industry knows their jobs are under threat or lost because of ANC policies and actions. It’s not just Covid-19 — other countries have measures in place to support its citizens. In South Africa, Covid-19 is being used to hide the ANC’s shortcomings. A TBCSA campaign should not be about party politics but about good governance. For years now, Government has been the biggest enemy of tourism in South Africa — the visa regime, corruption, public safety, dysfunctional SOEs, and more.
Government doesn’t have a clue about business, and doesn’t listen to those that do. Government’s restrictions for opening the restaurant industry will cause restaurants to go deeper into debt. Government is clueless. The V&A Waterfront considered mothballing all restaurants until the end of the year as one solution, rather than incur greater losses. But that means retaining and looking after staff.
Throughout Africa, the pandemic is whittling away at one of Africa’s signature achievements: the growing middle class. For the last decade, the middle class has helped drive educational, political and economic development across the continent. But because of the pandemic, many more people across Africa are at risk of being “knocked back into poverty,” said Razia Khan, the chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered bank.
In South Africa, there are solutions but the ANC isn’t interested. Minister Nkozama Dlamini-Zuma places more importance on her pet projects than practicality and pragmatism, and human lives. She fails the rationality test. (And has she ever refuted accusations that her family benefits from the illegal cigarette trade?)
Government is losing R35 million every day in lost tax revenues as a result of the ban on legal cigarette sales. That’s over R1 billion a month; R3.5 billion since the lockdown started. (That’s apart from the income cigarette sellers earn.) South Africa is the only country in the world implementing a ban on the sale of tobacco products. Does South Africa know better than every other country on the planet? Even Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, broke ranks with his party and his cabinet colleagues to voice his disagreement with the tobacco ban. Government is the benefactor and partner in crime to the illegal cigarette trade.
A billion rand a month will go some way in cushioning the hospitality and tourism industries and safeguarding jobs during the time of Covid-19.
Nothing demonstrates better just how clueless Ramaphosa’s cabinet is than the media briefing by the tourism minister last Friday, ten days after the president had announced that leisure tourism would be opening up, subject to protocols to be announced. In this short clip from the 45 minute briefing, she answers questions about the opening up of tourism.
In the regulations published the night before her media briefing, they clearly state “A person may leave his or her place of residence to travel for leisure purposes as allowed under Alert Level 3.”
The minister is clearly clueless and unfit to serve as a cabinet minister. One can’t blame her alone because the folly of her appointment lies with President Ramaphosa. She is a loyal ANC cadre with little to qualify her beyond that; she was initially appointed to the cabinet by Jacob Zuma to promote his ambitions for nuclear energy.
So… Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa (CEO of TBCSA)… do you and your board have the guts to be effective? To lead a campaign which raises the understanding of tourism to its rightful place as the biggest generator of employment in South Africa, with the capacity to do far, far more. Can you lead the lobbying organisation you need to be?