CAPE TOWN – Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has accused opposition MPs of showing a lack of patriotism and empathy for the people of South Africa.
Sisulu hit back when she responded to her department’s 2.49 billion rand budget debate in parliament on Thursday.
“We are talking about a very fragile and important sector of our economy. I have listened to some contributions from various members and what I find shocking is a lack of patriotism, a lack of empathy for the people who have given themselves to make a living in this particular industry for themselves and for others,” said Sisulu.
The tourism sector, once a beacon of economic growth and job creation, has been hit hard by COVID-19 related travel lockdowns and restrictions.
It was not a great moment for Sisulu, who was struggling with connectivity issues as she described government efforts to revitalize the struggling tourism sector.
Opposition MPs have accused the government of not doing enough to help the industry, which has lost nearly half a million jobs since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020.
“This government still does not understand that it is the private sector that develops tourism and brings visitors to South Africa. This is happening as the government tinkers with the fringes,” said Democratic Alliance MP Manny de Freitas.