Trevor Noah, a comedian and former American TV programme host, has sparked outrage after allegations appeared regarding his arrangement with SA Tourism to promote South Africa for five minutes in exchange for a once-off R33 million payment.
According to News24, the superstar is scheduled to be paid R33 million to promote the country in response to remarks made by Tandi Mahambehlala, head of Parliament’s tourism committee.
During a committee hearing this week, Mahambehlala said one of the concerns she questioned Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille about was Trevor Noah charging South Africans R33 million for a five-minute promotional video advert.
Tshifhiwa Tshivhenga, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), categorically dismissed any government involvement.
“I am the owner of the project and it has nothing to do with government or portfolio committee. If we do the project, it will be a private sector initiative and we don’t report to government or Parliament,” he said.
De Lille also made it clear that the bill would be footed by the TBCSA, and that no government money would be spent on the venture.
However, a whistleblower apparently informed the committee that public money was indeed being spent.
But De Lille said: “I am not mocking anyone. Anything that a whistleblower says must be looked at further or investigated. In this instance, I can tell you that the whistleblower did not give you the full story.
“It was on 21 July that I made the comment. The whistleblower did not tell you that I informed everybody that this was done by the private sector.
De Lille added: “We were consulting tourism stakeholders, and they were all there. There is something wrong with the ears of the whistleblower, but I did say that this is being done by the private sector.
“I can tell you that in my last engagement, when I met with the chair of the tourism council… if you want anything on the matter with Trevor Noah, please contact them.”
Mahambehlala also compared the Noah promo video to the controversial Tottenham Hotspur marketing deal, which was ultimately cancelled.
SA Tourism came under criticism in February after the Daily Maverick reported on a possible three-year deal with Spurs worth £42.5 million (almost R1 billion).
— Patricia de Lille (@PatriciaDeLille) March 16, 2017
Mahambehlala warned SA Tourism that Tourism Marketing South Africa levies, paid by the TBCSA to the entity, should not be used as a slush fund to commit financial malfeasance