I never lied about Mayweather funds - Mbalula

2016-01-15 16:25

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Johannesburg - Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied lying to Parliament about using taxpayer money to fund a visit by boxing giant Floyd Mayweather to South Africa in 2014.

"At no point did Minister Fikile Mbalula mislead Parliament. All Parliamentary questions by the DA and other parties have been answered truthfully and to the best of our knowledge and abilities based on records at our disposal within the department," Mbalula's office said in a statement on Friday.

The sports department has accused the DA and Netwerk24 's editor-in-chief, Adriaan Basson of being on a "political witch hunt" and colluding towards the downfall of the government.

When initially asked about the costs incurred for Mayweather's visit, Mbalula had told Parliament that only around R1 640 had been spent on petrol costs to the Dube Soweto Gym and the Emperor's Palace where a gala had been held.

But Netwerk24 this week reported that documents from Mbalula's office revealed that almost half a million had been spent towards Mayweather's visit.

In the documents the department says: "The department's involvement [with Mayweather's visit] was not through financial contribution to the tour itself but through collaboration and synchronised programs."

The department, in the documents quoted by Netwerk24, then breaks down the costs incurred.

Around R171 000 was spent on purchasing tables at the gala dinner. Another R155 000 was spent on marketing and advertising, a further R90 000 was spent on branding and R22 000 on auction framing.

Following the article, the DA demanded answers from Mbalula and said it intended to approach the chairperson of the portfolio committee on sport and recreation to summon Mbalula to Parliament where he had to account for the expenditure.

Mbalula said he had accounted for all the funds used.

"We wish to state it on record that the purported amounts [R475 950] we have allegedly failed to disclose to Parliament have actually been disclosed in full."

His office said it stood by what it had said that no taxpayers funds had been used towards the visit and welcomed the DA's action against them.

"In fact we will give our due support to the chairperson of the portfolio committee to prioritise this matter and give it preference on the first sitting of the committee in the new session of Parliament when it resumes."

Mbalula accused Netwerk24's editor of colluding with the DA. But Basson rejected this as a diversion tactic.

"The minister is clearly trying to divert attention away from the untruths he told Parliament and the media about Mayweather’s January 2014 visit to South Africa.

"He categorically stated that the government did not pay one cent towards the visit. Documentation from his own department contradicts him. If he didn’t know, he should say so instead of launching ad hominem attacks against journalists doing their jobs," Basson said.

*Netwerk24 is part of the Media24 group that also owns News24.

Read more on:    da  |  fikile mbalula  |  media

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