Beyoncé – Mbalula backtracks

2012-06-24 07:40

‘Campaign of slander against me’

After a week of public outrage, backtracking and apologies, Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied ever saying he wanted to bring American star Beyoncé to South Africa.

The minister came under fire after City Press ran a story last week highlighting the minister’s plans to make Beyoncé the headlining act at the second yearly South African Sports Awards.

Mbalula said in an interview with Joburg commercial station KayaFM last week: “Now we’re going for Beyoncé, man, Beyoncé!”

His spokesperson later confirmed that negotiations with the star were under way.

Bringing one of the world’s biggest stars to the country would cost an estimated R17 million.

And contacted by City Press yesterday after a week of criticism, Mbalula blew his top.

“I would never do that. How could I justify spending R17 million of South African taxpayers’ (money) on one artist? I would be expelled by the president,” Mbalula roared.

He accused City Press of running a campaign of slander against him.

“The public outrage that people were having was based on false roots.

“People were mobilised around false grounds. You can call Las Vegas now, call the United States, and ask Beyoncé if she has a proposal from Mbalula . . . this thing does not exist,” he said.

The minister’s initial statements about bringing Beyoncé to the country angered local artists and music lovers, who suggested that any number of South African musicians could headline the awards just as well, if not better.

Mbalula did himself no favours when he went on Metro FM this week to “clarify” the situation – Twitter users reported he told host Robert Marawa it was not his problem local artists were exploited.

Mbalula told City Press this comment had been misconstrued.

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