Mbalula ‘did not mislead Parliament’ about costs for Mayweather visit
The Department of Sport and Recreation has denied allegations that Minister Fikile Mbalula misled Parliament about who footed the bill for a visit to the country in 2014 by former world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather‚ dismissing the claims as “nothing but a political witchhunt”.
The Democratic Alliance said on Thursday that despite Mbalula’s initial claims that the trip was not paid for by taxpayers‚ documents obtained by Netwerk24 through the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) revealed that Mbalula’s department spent more than R475‚950 on advertisements and marketing at a gala function during Mayweather’s visit.
DA spokesman on sports and recreation Solly Malatsi said the revelation was is in “stark contrast” to the minister's repeated pronouncements that no state money was spent on Mayweather's Reawakening of the Giant Tour of South Africa.
“It also flies in the face of claims by the department that the Mayweather visit was privately financed and organised and that the department was asked to participate in a bid to revive boxing in the country‚” said Malatsi.
He added that Mbalula was even on record in a response to a DA parliamentary question declaring that “the Department did not spend money on Mr Mayweather or his visit to South Africa. In that regard‚ there is no money incurred by the department in respect of Mr Mayweather's attendance of the (i) Dube boxing event and (ii) gala dinner at Emperors Palace”.
Responding to the statement on Thursday evening‚ the Department of Sport and Recreation stated: “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.
“We stand by all we have said in the parliamentary replies to questions asked and welcome the DA’s intent to call upon the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation to probe this matter.
“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‚” the department said.
It added: “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. We stand by all we said before and indicates (sic) that we have not paid for Mr Floyd Mayweather’s visit to the Soweto Dube Boxing Gym and to Emperors Palace for the gala dinner.
“We further re-state that the Department has not paid for the travel‚ accommodation and appearance fees. We are ready and eagerly awaiting the opportunity in Parliament to ventilate further on this matter and to set the record straight.”