Many in the travel and tourism industry swear on the enormous economic value created by hosting events such as the FIFA Soccer World Cup and the Olympics. Of late, there have been many sceptics that question the long term benefit of driving the present economy and tax payers into dire straits by state funding of such events.
The headline of the Business Times in South Africa last weekend read: Proudly (NOT) South African – an appropriate title given the latest scandal involving a senior ANC member of parliament awarding the Zakumi (the FIFA 2010 mascot) contract to a Chinese sweatshop. Shanghai Fashion Plastic Products and Gifts has deals in place to produce over two million Zakumi toy figurines. Cosatu, a South African trade union federation is not happy about this – particularly given the current recession and government’s promise to pay attention to local job creation.
ANC MP Shiaan-Bin Huang owns Ascendo Industrial in Newcastle, South Africa. 100,000 of these Zakumi figurines are reported to be destined there from the Chinese manufacturer. According to the article in the Sunday Times, more than 500 Chinese workers are each paid R23 (about £2 GBP) a day to make the Zakumi toy figures which retail for approximately R360 (about £30 GBP). Shiaan-Bin Huang acted as Ascendo Industrial’s managing director when he signed the contract with the Chinese manufacturer. At those rates, it’s likely the landed cost of products in South Africa would still be much lower than if they were produced locally. If you consider that tax payers are largely footing the bill for this huge event, surely some degree of protectionist behaviour that benefits the host country is warranted as Cosatu suggests?
Given that Mr Shiaan-Bin Huang serves on the South African parliament’s economic development committee, Wonkie wonders what in this equation does not slap South African tax payers across the face with the phrase CONFLICT OF INTEREST.