Stofile angry over Beijing expo fiasco

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Makhenkesi Stofile, the minister of sport and recreation, has asked for a full report on the money wasted on establishing a South African home in China for the Beijing Olympics that has not been used.

Government has contributed around R15 million to use certain facilities of a posh Beijing hotel as Ekhaya, an Nguni word for home.

The aim of Ekhaya, which will also be operational during the Paralympics, was to sell South Africa to the international community.

Ekhaya, which Stofile's department were hoping to use to create awareness of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, was supposed to have opened 10 days ago but wasn't .

"Minister Stofile is not chuffed about the situation in China concerning Ekhaya," said Lerato Mogorosi, Stofile's spokesman.

"Ekhaya will go ahead as planned for the two projects in China, but the minister is awaiting a report. We will take action based on the report.

"The aim of Ekhaya is to provide a home to our athletes away from home. Ekhaya expose them to the South African food and entertainment when they are not competing."

A high-powered South African delegation, including World Cup chief executive Danny Jordaan, is expected to arrive in China today.

Jordaan, some cabinet ministers and senior government officials will be at Ekhaya this week to interact with the media on the preparations for the World Cup.

Ekhaya is not a unique project at an international competition where a multi-coded South African team is participating.

It was launched at the 2003 All Africa Games in Nigeria but seemingly the mistake with the one in China is that Stofile's department did not do their homework. They should have sent their staff to set up Ekhaya at least two weeks before the event.

Butana Komphela, chairman of Parliament's portfolio committee on sport and recreation, could not be reached for comment on the issue.