Tag Archives: Tony Ehrenreich

Cape Town Cup 2015: Football flop, scandalous waste of City of Cape Town budget, topples Tourism!

CapeTownCup_300The Cape Town Cup, which took place on 24 and 26 July last weekend, is the biggest Football Flop the City of Cape Town has thrown ratepayers’ money at, estimated to be R 30 million!

I am not a supporter of the ANC politics in the City of Cape Town Council meetings nor those at provincial level, but the reports yesterday, quoting both Tony Ehrenreich and Marius Fransman, made me sit up and take note.

Driving past the Cape Town Stadium last Friday at 18h00, the starting time of the first match, I was surprised at how easy it was to get to the V&A Waterfront, my usual route leading past the Stadium. Other than the Stadium Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 26 January

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Mrs Liz McGrath, owner of The Collection by Liz McGrath, which includes The Cellars-Hohenhort,  The Marine, and The Plettenberg, with The Lord Milner in Matjiesfontein recently taken over by her too, passed away this weekend.

*   James Laube, writing for Wine Spectator, generically describes South African wines as aiming for longevity, of up to 40 years.  Cape Point Vineyards winemaker Duncan Savage told him: ‘South African winemakers say they feel as if they’re in a state of limbo. “It’s as if we’re in the New World of the Old World, or part of the Old World in the New World’.  He expressed his personal dislike of our country’s ‘low pH, high-acidity wines’.

*   Cape Town already has a street named after former President FW de Klerk, in Wesbank it has been discovered, Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 13 January

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Eskom remains a laugh-a-minute, its CEO Tshediso Matona saying yesterday to a meeting of 100 business and agriculture executives that ‘one unexpected event at any of its power stations can push the country to the total failure of the national electricity system that may take weeks to resolve’.  Loadshedding was predicted for late last week, but did not take place.  It has now been predicted for next week. Economists predict that Eskom’s ability to prevent loadshedding will influence the country’s economy.   A shortage of diesel appears to be affecting electricity supply.

*   The City of Cape Town plans to revise its loadshedding schedule, to make it more equitable and fair to all its residents from 1 February.  This comes in response to the claim by COSATU Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich that the City’s current loadshedding schedule is ‘racist and unfair’, and plans to take the matter to the Human Rights Commission!

*   Franschhoek wines Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2010 and Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve 2012 are the only two South African Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 19 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

 *  Cape Town’s hosting of World Design Capital 2014 has benefited only a few Capetonians, says mega-moaner ANC City Councillor Tony Ehrenreich, while Grant Haskin, African Christian Democratic Party caucus leader, agrees.  Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing Garreth Bloor disputes this, many of the 450 design projects initiated this year having a longer-term legacy.  The City of Cape Town is spending R40 million on the project this year. 

*   Despite there being no cases of Ebola in South Africa, some tour groups from Asia have cancelled their trips to our country, for fear of the West Africa cases spreading to our country.

*   Artist Aleta Michaletos from Pretoria will exhibit 32 of her works at De Oude Drostdy, the home of Continue reading →

Cape Town winter seasonality has little chance of recovery! Politicians not playing ball for tourism!

Once again the tourism authorities are paying lip service to Winter Seasonality in Cape Town and the Western Cape, and it is rather sad to see the City of Cape Town scramble to host events this coming winter which in all likelihood will make no difference to the tourism industry at all.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold has admitted to the Cape Argus how grave the effect of Seasonality is on our tourism industry: ‘Despite growth in tourism of late, seasonality remains the biggest threat to our tourism industry. Many misperceptions exist around winter being an undesirable time to visit.  This is a critical issue for an industry that employs more than 300000 people and is the second largest contributor to the Western Cape’s GDP. Tourism role-players in Cape Town long ago realised that Cape Town needs a 365-day brand position to fill beds during the quieter months’. Unfortunately in her ten years of heading up Cape Town Tourism, she has not made any contribution to the worsening effect of Seasonality on the Cape tourism industry.

The new City of Cape Town Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has egg on its face, for the Liverpool/Ajax Cape Town soccer match, which was scheduled for next Tuesday, having to be called off.  The City has blamed the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for the fiasco.  Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events and Marketing, Councillor Grant Pascoe, who traveled to the UK earlier this year to sign up a number of soccer clubs for friendlies to be played in Cape Town, angrily hit out on his Facebook page yesterday at criticism directed at him in the Cape Times by COSATU Secretary General and ANC Councillor Tony Ehrenreich, who called for disciplinary action against Pascoe for the handling of the soccer saga, with its resultant wasted costs and loss of reputation for Cape Town.  Words between Ehrenreich and Pascoe sound more like a political slanging match than a genuine concern about enhancing the number of tourists in our city!

Pascoe followed this up with a poor media release issued by the City’s Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department:City responds to allegations of mismanagement surrounding the cancelled visit of Liverpool FC. In response to the press statement from COSATU, “Livepool (sic) Saga shows a Serious Mismanagement from City of Cape Town”, I am able to comment on only those facts that are known to me, and not on vexatious rumours. The City is inclusive and would consider any and all similar proposals from other Cape-based teams. Ajax Cape Town FC, in good faith, negotiated with the South African Football Association (SAFA), and Liverpool FC with the English Football Association for permission for the match to take place. Permission from both these bodies was granted. In a letter from SAFA to the CEO of the Premier Soccer League (PSL), SAFA states, ‘we are therefore granting your club permission to participate in this International Friendly Match, provided they comply with FIFA regulations governing international matches, and that FIFA responds favourably to the application’. Based on this positive correspondence, the City continued engagements with Liverpool FC, and made arrangements for the game to take place. There are no guidelines or regulations for PSL teams, or external organisations, to follow that govern these arrangements. They are assessed purely on a case by case basis. To the City’s knowledge, no prior applications have been refused before this one. After extensive consultations, including trying to find an alternate date, a solution could not be found to suit all concerned. It is the City’s position that the reputational damage lies with the PSL. Even their sponsors have actively distanced themselves from the decision taken. The City will not be deterred or deflated by this obstacle, and is actively negotiating several other sporting events to bring to the people of Cape Town”.

To address Ehrenreich’s criticism, the Cape Argus ran a story yesterday, to announce the two new events which the City of Cape Town has organised for the winter months.  The first is the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival, which is due to attract ‘between 10000 and 15000 people at the festival from all over the country, as well as international guests‘!  No details were found about the Festival, which is scheduled to take place in July without exact dates specified, other than that it is an arts festival which will include dance, music and other art forms which will be held in the V&A Waterfront, Artscape, and the City Hall, the newspaper reported!  If a Festival of this scale is to be hosted in Cape Town in two months from now, one would have expected that details would have been made available already, and that the marketing work will have commenced, by both Cape Town Tourism and the City’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department!

In August the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, with 4000 delegates expected to attend, the focus being on Cape Town’s design challenges.  No further information was found.

Disappointingly the City of Cape Town’s Tourism, Events, and Marketing department has not managed to make any visible marketing impact on Cape Town’s tourism industry in the past year. The odd soccer match, the Cape Town Design Exhibition Conference, and the Cape Town Performance Arts Festival are unlikely to make any significant difference to the poor and declining occupancies which the accommodation industry is suffering each winter!

POSTSCRIPT 16/5: The Pundits website today posted Councillor Pascoe’s explanation about the cancelled soccer match, and wrote critically about the confusion the announcement of the match and subsequent cancellation had caused. It also advised the City of Cape Town to use the official channels when negotiating with international soccer clubs.  The post was written by a Jason Pascoe (relationship to Councillor Pascoe unknown, but hinted at being the son of Councillor Pascoe by a comment writer!), and oddly enough was Retweeted by Councillor Pascoe!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

SA wine industry’s social responsibility praised by top Swedish wine buyers!

A delegation from Systembolaget, a Swedish liquor monopoly according to a media release issued on behalf of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), has declared itself to be ‘very impressed’ with the social responsibility work being done by our local wine industry.

Led by Chairman  Dr Cecilia Seidegård and CEO Magdalena Gerger, the Systembolaget delegation visit earlier this month included the full board  of directors of the company, a visit to the Cape Winelands which had been planned a year ago, and was not initiated as a result of the more recent farm worker strikes. The Western Cape Minister of Agriculture Gerrit van Rensburg accompanied the visit to the wine farms by the delegation.

Sweden is an important export market for the South African wine industry, buying 33 million litres of wine a year, across ‘several hundred labels’. Two years ago our country was Systembolaget’s largest supplier.

Ms Gerger said that her company wants to promote a supply chain of wines that is ‘fair and honest towards people and the environment’, important requirements for Swedes. Faitrade registered wines are well supported, and our country was praised by her for its strong support of Fairtrade and for being at its forefront internationally. The reasonably new WIETA accreditation may become a Systembolaget tender criterion, she said. She did however add that there is room for improvement, encouraging wine producers to improve conditions for their workers.

Systembolaget conducts audits regularly on its source countries, and the delegation conducted their audit while in the Winelands. Ms Gerger said that should a wine estate’s audit result not be satisfactory, an action plan would be developed and it would be re-audited twelve months later.  Should the owner not make the required changes, the relationship would be terminated. She added: We believe anyone involved in the making of the products we sell should earn a living wage. We are at present involved in the revision of the Code of Conduct for the Nordic countries, and there is every indication that the revised code, which is expected to come into effect in 2014, will contain a ‘living wage’ condition.”

Minister van Rensburg welcomed the visit by the delegatiom, and said that his government believes that ‘real improvement in social conditions can only be brought about through economic growth’. He said that his government welcomed the ‘trade relations with Sweden’.

Strikes of farmworkers, including those working on wine farms, in January this year and November last year, severely damaged South Africa’s image as a tourist destination. The effect on wine sales is not yet known, COSATU Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich having called for a boycott of South African wine purchases by overseas wine lovers as well as by retailers at the time of the strikes.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Calls for UK boycott of South African wines and fruit counterproductive!

The call last week by the Black Workers’ Agricultural Sector Union (BAWUSA) for consumers in the United Kingdom to boycott South African wines and fruit reminds one of apartheid days, when now-British MP Peter Hain was vocal about boycotting South African products in our dark days prior to the change in our government in 1994. Such a boycott could only worsen the situation for the half a million South African farmworkers, and is counterproductive to negotiating an increase in the minimum farmworker wage, and in the improvement in the general well-being of the farm workers.

The trade union federation COSATU is led by its Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich, a known trouble maker and loud mouth who has regularly put his foot into his mouth in attempting to destroy our tourism industry, and is now focusing on destroying our wine and fruit (including apples and grapes) export business. Ehrenreich is a City of Cape Town ANC councillor, and one wonders why he does not do his day job for Cape Town, regularly having been seen in the past two months in De Doorns, the epicentre of the farmworker unrest, and why the City does not censure him.  He and his trade union federation mates had to concede defeat, when the workers asked for the strike and unrest to be called off last week, as the workers were running short of money, not being paid for their days off whilst striking!  Many say that the unrest was instigated by the ANC to make the Western Cape ungovernable, the province being in the political hands of the opposition Democratic Alliance!

Sensationalist The Guardian has led British newspapers in pushing for the boycott, and even ran an opinion poll about the topic, 59% of the poll voters supporting such a boycott, reported The South African.

Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), wrote an open letter to the newspaper: ‘The coverage unfairly targets the South African wine industry and has the potential to do unimaginable damage to an industry that is working hard, through its support of the Wine and Agricultural Industry Ethical Association (WIETA), and also Fairtrade, to ensure the ethical treatment of workers‘.  Ms Birch highlighted that the strikes were not connected to the wine industry, but to the fruit farming industry.  She also reminded the readers of the newspaper that South Africa is the ‘largest producer of Fairtrade wines in the world‘, and that the WIETA initiatives are making ‘real, tangible progress that puts South Africa at the forefront of ethical, social sustainability‘.  WOSA-antagonist Neil Pendock could not help but take a swipe at WOSA about the poll, yet admitted that he had voted against the boycott!

It is too early to tell what damage, if any, The Guardian poll and resultant publicity for the farmworkers’ cause will generate, and whether it will impact on wine and fruit exports, at a time when South African wine producers are facing tough times in generating sales in the UK!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Hussar Grill Camps Bay Sweet Service and Tony Ehrenreich Sour Service Awards!

The Sweet Service Award goes to the Hussar Grill in Camps Bay, for recently hosting the guest houses and hotel concierges in Camps Bay to a complimentary lunch, to thank them for business sent their way in the past year.  The guest house lunch was an opportunity for the owners and managers of the accommodation establishments to connect, and to exchange notes about the season lying ahead. The restaurant is popular amongst tourists and locals, for its good value meat dishes, and parking availability.  Each guest also received a ‘goodie box’, containing some treats with the menu update.

The Sour Service Award goes to COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich, for allegedly telling striking farm workers in De Doorns: “There is already blood on the farm workers and unless it stops there will be blood on the farmers  of these farms. We will grab the land and give it to the rightful owners”.  The Freedom Front is to ask the Human Rights Commission to investigate his address for hate speech. Ehrenreich denies having made these comments, reports the Cape Times.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

Africa Cup of Nations 2013: City of Cape Town Tourism foul deserves red card!

The tourism industry is astounded that the City of Cape Town has fouled up its opportunity to generate revenue during the 29th Africa Cup of Nations championships (AFCON), which will be hosted in our country between January and February next year.  The winners of the Championships qualify for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Last week the soccer stadia hosting the 32 matches for the Championships were announced, Soccer City in Johannesburg hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and matches.  The other matches will be played at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, and Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Cape Town Stadium is conspicuous by its absence, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, once again showing what a burden he is to the city’s tourism industry!  The city had expressed its opposition to hosting the event, due to the cost burden, and sought a guarantee from the government for at least 50% of the hosting costs to be covered.  The City was also looking to the Confederation of African Football and/or Local Organising Committee to cover 25 % of the costs.  Costs for the host city include the preparation of the pitch, fencing, security, the accommodation of the teams and officials, as well as transport plans, according to the Cape Argus. The City also was unhappy that the event would mean that other events could not be held at the Cape Town Stadium, meaning a loss of income, a poor motivation, given how few events are held at the stadium, less than one per month on average! However, four events have been booked for the mid-January to mid-February period next year, it is reported. In addition, the City of Cape Town’s new Executive Director of Tourism, Events and Marketing, Anton Groenewald, and reporting to Councillor Pascoe, naively expressed the concern of the public liability of the players in case of an accident, something every event organiser is insured for!  The City accused the organisers of ‘bully tactics’ and that it was being held to ‘ransom‘!  The City did not present the approval for funding to its full Council meeting, the deadline date for the bid having preceded the Council meeting date at the end of April.

The South African Football Association (SAFA) agreement placed the financial burden solely on the bidding cities. The Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula said that the cost of hosting the matches would be funded by the government, private enterprise, and the Confederation of African Football.

Even more astounding is the city’s decision, given that Councillor Pascoe’s portfolio includes the Cape Town Stadium, which is running at a significant loss, the City not having been able to find an operator to generate an income from the stadium other than a few local soccer matches, religious gatherings, and pop concerts! Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille prepared a statement in reaction to the Host City announcement, as published in Politicsweb: “The City of Cape Town notes with deep disappointment the decision not to include Cape Town as a host city for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013. From the outset, the City expressed the desire to be part of what we truly believe is a celebration of African football. However, at each stage of the process, we have highlighted a number of serious legal, financial and other concerns that needed to be negotiated in order for the City to comply with our legal responsibilities and to ensure that we do not compromise the interests of the ratepayers and citizens of Cape Town”. The Mayor added that the City’s concerns had not been responded to, and that it had to hear via media reports that it had not been successful in its bid.  She also reiterated the City’s commitment to hosting ‘high profile national, regional and international football matches’, and intimated that a ‘high profile football tournament’ would be hosted next month, rather short notice one would think, given that it is a month away and has not been finalised nor announced!

Johannesburg had also balked at the cost of hosting the event, and therefore its involvement has been reduced to the first and last day of the Championships, the government stepping in to help bear some of the costs.  One wonders why the government did not help Cape Town with its concerns about the cost of the event, and whether politics led to the DA-led City of Cape Town having been excluded, or whether it is a reflection of the poor negotiation skills of Councillor Pascoe. We would assume it is the latter, given Mayor de Lille’s complaint that the City did not receive any written response to its concerns!  This is reinforced by the statement of Mvuzo Mbebe, the AFCON 2013 CEO, in which he questioned why the City of Cape Town was communicating with his organisation via the media instead of with him directly!

Libya had originally won the bid to host the African Cup of Nations 2013, but the political turmoil in the country led to the event being moved to South Africa two years ago.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce does not usually receive our support, due to its communication gaffes, but the association supported an AFCON bid by Cape Town, stating that the cost involved was worth the price tag, reported the Sunday Argus.  Its President Michael Bagraim said last month: “The costs of the tournament are unknown at this stage, and the city will almost certainly take an initial loss. But the Afcon could open up many other venue (sic) streams in the long term”.  The benefits for the tourism, transport and accommodation sectors were clear, he said (perhaps not understanding that the accommodation industry is part of the tourism sector!). Bagraim added that the event would have the economic benefit of a Two Oceans Marathon or a Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, being good examples of event tourism, which the tourism industry recognises the valuable impact of.  A further tourism benefit was that the event would have created exposure for Cape Town in Africa, sorely needed to reduce the burden on the traditional European source markets. The Chamber expressed its disappointment that Cape Town had not been included as a host city, after the announcement last week.  Oddly, the tourism industry has not spoken out against the City of Cape Town’s handling of the AFCON bid.

COSATU provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich was quick to make political capital out of the AFCON bid debacle, and for once we must agree with him, saying that the bid problems were similar to those of the Saracens versus Biarritz Heineken Cup match, which cost the city dearly when the match scheduled to be held in Cape Town in January this year was moved to another country, due to the City of Cape Town’s inability to make a decision about whether to host the event at Newlands or at Cape Town Stadium. Ehrenreich has threatened to take the City of Cape Town, of which he is an (ANC) Councillor, to the Equality Court over the AFCON bid!

We have previously questioned Councillor Pascoe’s ability to manage his portfolio of Tourism, Events, and Marketing, and ask how the performance, or lack of in the case of Councillor Pascoe, is evaluated, and how much more damage the Councillor will cause before any action is taken against him and he be removed from this position!  Councillor Pascoe has no business experience, and it is showing!  What is interesting is that Mayor de Lille motivates her administration’s decision on the basis of her care for ratepayers and the citizens of Cape Town – the former were not consulted in preparation for the 2010 World Cup involvement, creating a long term rates burden for its ratepayers. Capetonians were also not consulted about AFCON.  Many of the residents of Cape Town would welcome a big soccer event in the city, given the beneficial bonding the soccer event created two years ago.  The estimated cost that the City of Cape Town was protesting about was R27 million, which was expected to grow to R40 million or more, reported Southern African Tourism Update.  This figure is less than the City’s annual budget spent on Cape Town Tourism, and may be a far better investment in tourism than the predominant Tweet-Marketing done by the tourism body!

The AFCON booby prize goes to Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, and Kimberley, in hosting the 2014 African Nations Championships (CHAN), it has been announced.  No dates have been announced for the Championships in 2014, and one wonders if the City of Cape Town will blow the whistle on this event too!

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: The Cape Times today has a lead story entitled “City slams Safa over soccer Cup snub”, writing that Councillor Grant Pascoe is blaming SAFA for treating the City as ‘palookas’, shocking that a Councillor in general, and the one heading up Tourism, Events, and Marketing, could use such unprofessional language. The article also quotes Safa as stating that ‘the losers will always cry foul’!  SAFA stated that the four soccer stadia were chosen in cities that ‘are winners’, a terrible criticism of Cape Town, by default!  The 2014 CHAN games are described as B team matches, an even worse slap for Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT 7/5: The Cape Argus this evening reports that the City of Cape Town has four events booked for the Cape Town Stadium for January/February 2013, which it would have had to cancel had it been an AFCON host city. The events include an international pop concert, an international rugby match, and two film shoots.

POSTSCRIPT 14/5: In his Cape Argus column, Mike Wills last week both praised the City of Cape Town for its financial fiduciary concerns, and slammed it for its ‘tonality of the approach’, in spending too much time in telling SAFA what to do!  He concluded that the end result, other than a tourism loss and an empty Fan Walk, is the entrenchment of the Cape Town stereotype of ‘Cape Town Hates Soccer’, expanded into ‘Cape Town Hate Things That Black People Like’!

POSTSCRIPT 18/6: The Times has reported that the African Cup of Nations will cost R400 million to host next year, including R20 million to accommodate the VIPs, and R25 million for marketing.  The cost to the four host cities collectively will be R90 million.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage