There is more to Juju rumour, says Mbalula

2012-08-03 12:39

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says there is more to the stories that he had funded axed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s trip to London.

Malema reportedly stayed at the same five-star London hotel as Mbalula over the past couple of days, prompting speculation that he might have picked up the bill for his friend’s travel and accommodation expenses.

Addressing a press conference in Rosebank, Johannesburg, this morning, Mbalula denied that he had used either public or personal funds to pay for the man who has become President Jacob Zuma’s enfant terrible.

He said the rumours came from people who wanted to “rubbish” his name, but didn’t know how to do so.

“If you’ve got proof that I paid for Julius go the Public Protector who is very enthusiastic to investigate people who are doing wrong. Why would I pay for Julius with taxpayers’ money?

“... As to why people attack me with this lie, in no time that story will be told. I know where this story came from and I know why people are peddling this lie about me. This is not innocent, but it’s something that’s being fuelled,” he said.

He would not say whether this had anything to do with the ANC leadership contest ahead of its Mangaung elective conference.

He said his trip to London was purely about his official duties and the Olympics, and had nothing to do with the former youth league leader.

“It is rumour-mongering without a basis. I don’t know why we have to answer questions about other people’s visits to London,” Mbalula said.

He said he had been responsible for Malema before his expulsion from the ANC, and said he couldn’t speak for him now that he had been expelled from the party.

He said he didn’t address any meetings where Malema was present.

“I meet Julius every day in South Africa, why should London be exceptional?” he said.

He said he didn’t stop associating with people who had been expelled from the ANC such as Bantu Holomisa as he had freedom of association.

DA spokesperson on transport Winston Rabotapi said the party expected Mbalula to account for the money spent during his trip to London, saying he had spent more than R36 million on travel and accommodation so far. Last year, he spent more than R2.6 million.

“The DA will not rest until we know how much of the people’s money Minister Mbalula has spent on this trip.

“We are currently awaiting answers to parliamentary questions on how the funding from the National Lottery and private sponsorships for the Olympics was used and how many officials from the department are attending the Olympic Games in London.

I will now also submit parliamentary questions to Minister Mbalula asking him to confirm whether or not his department funded Julius Malema’s trip to London.

“Minister Mbalula has a penchant for spending public money on parties and junkets. Last year, his department spent R45.9 million on the annual sports award ceremony, with R8 million coming from the National Lottery Board (despite being earmarked for Olympic athletes) and R12.1 million from the department of sports and recreation,” Rabotapi said.

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