CAPE TOWN – Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that this was no time for bickering or apportioning blame as the sector reeled from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
Kubayi-Ngubane’s told Parliament that she was confident that the sector would recover. But during debate on her department’s adjusted budget she came under fire from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Freedom Front Plus.
The Tourism Department’s original budget of R2.4 billion has been cut by about R1 billion, most of it covered by an R800 million cut to SA Tourism’s marketing budget, as conferences and exhibitions aren’t taking place under COVID-19 restrictions.
Kubayi-Ngubane said that it was important for everyone in the sector to pull together.
“This is hardly the time for bickering and apportioning blame. Rather, the situation demands that we work together, to ensure that we together weather the storm going forward.”
The minister said that there was still a limited understanding of the pandemic and uncertainty about what would happen in the coming days, weeks and months.
“I’m mindful that this does not bring any comfort to businesses that are in distress and to jobs that have been lost or are on the verge of being lost, however, we need to continue to work together to ensure that we rebuild our sector.”
The DA’s Manuel de Freitas claimed that the African National Congress (ANC) did not care about half of the 750,000 jobs in the sector being lost and likened the minister to being “a modern-day Marie.