South African union demands World Cup payback

Published Jun. 15, 2010 5:29 p.m. ET

The National Health and Allied Workers Union said Tuesday that state entities should pay back more than 10 million rand that they have spent on World Cup tickets.

Departments such as national broadcaster SABC, the South African post office, the Department of Public Service and Administration, and the Department of Trade and Industry have spent about 10.9 million rand on World Cup tickets.

``Our union finds it totally unacceptable that our townships are burning because of poor service delivery and millions go hungry everyday, yet the overpaid state bureaucrats are stealing the taxpayer's money to watch soccer,'' said the workers union, which is known as Nehawu.

The government said last week that it ordered departments to stop spending so much on tickets. And the National Treasury said officials who signed off on extravagant purchases could face charges of financial misconduct.

``We want the auditor-general (Terence Nombembe) to publically declare the findings of the investigation of the violation of the Public Finance Management Act,'' Nehawu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said.

Pamla said the figure of 10.9 million rand could increase as Nehawu continues to uncover more spendings.

``On a daily basis we discover new departments,'' Pamla said, ``and we expect them to account for their expenditures.''