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SA govt agencies overspend on WC: report

05/07/2010 08:46:50 AM Comments (0)

Government agencies in South Africa have spent more than 110 million rand ($A16.71 million) on World Cup tickets and related expenses, more than double the amount they had publicly admitted to spending, according to a newspaper report.

Eskom, the national power utility, spent about 12 million rand ($A1.78 million) on football tickets for the tournament despite the threat of a strike from workers unhappy with their wages and housing allowances.

"They spent 17,000 rand ($A2,607) per executive FIFA ticket," one employee who works in the finance department and has knowledge of the expenditures told The Associated Press.

"The workers are incredibly emotional about managers getting enormous wage increases and housing allowances while they are seeing little of these benefits."

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because employees are not allowed to speak to the media.

Although the strike was averted on Sunday, the National Union of Mineworkers, which represents about 16,000 of the Eskom staff, said employees were still upset with the amount of money spent on tickets.

"Only the executives and their wives and their children received tickets," NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka told The Sunday Times.

Seshoka said Eskom workers would get a 9 percent wage increase and a 1,500 rand ($A225.23) minimum housing allowance for all employees.

"We will be taking up these two issues with Eskom to ensure that the workers are treated fairly in the future," Seshoka told the AP.

South African Airways is the biggest spender on World Cup tickets, spending 23 million rand ($A3.5 million), according to The Sunday Times report. The national airline bought 1,749 tickets only two months before receiving a 1.6 billion rand ($A2.37 billion) government bailout in December 2008.

Also, PetroSA and Transnet spent a combined 24 million rand ($A3.67 million), and the Free State provincial government and the Mangaung municipality spent almost 22 million rand ($A3.32 million).

According to the report, the total of 111.4 million rand ($A16.95 million) could increase as more figures are released.

"It's the most selfish way of spending money and it is recklessness of the worst kind," said Zwelinzima Vavi, the general secretary of South Africa's biggest trade union federation, COSATU.

"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 gave out 1,633 tickets to tour operators, used another 20 tickets for staff, donated 28 to needy children and gave SAA sales teams and executives a further 68.

"SAA also used the hospitality packages to enhance its brand value, especially among tour operators, to enhance sales of flight tickets during the tournament," Zulu said.

Last month, the National Health and Allied Workers Union said that state entities, such as national broadcaster SABC, the South African post office and other government departments, should pay back more than 10 million rand ($A1.54 million) that they have spent on World Cup tickets.

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