Mbalula ‘must stop hobnobbing at expense of Parliament’‚ but spokesman says he’s not taking ‘selfies’ in Barcelona
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has come under fire from opposition MPs for “hobnobbing” in Spain and missing a National Assembly oral question-and-answer session for a second time in a row.
Ministers in the social cluster faced MPs for oral replies‚ but some failed to attend‚ sending their deputies instead.
Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said at the chief whip’s forum on Wednesday morning that it was still unsure whether Mbalula would be present.
“This is now the second consecutive session of oral questions in the house which Minister Mbalula has been absent for. The Constitution is very clear that ministers are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament.
I think this Parliament should take a particularly dim view of a minister who has prioritised a trip abroad over his duty to account to the people of South Africa through this Parliament‚” said Steenhuisen.
Steenhuisen said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ who is the leader of government business‚ gave an assurance in this National Assembly that MPs would see an improvement in the accountability of ministers.
“We have not seen an improvement. Minister Mbalula has now missed a second opportunity. In a year‚ a minister must come at least three times. To miss two in a row is disrespectful to this house‚” said Steenhuisen.
Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu said at the same chief whip’s forum that his party agreed that Mbalula “must stop hobnobbing at the expense of Parliament”.
“He travels for things that have no relationship with sports development. He’s apparently in Spain‚ now visiting Barcelona‚ for what we do not know.
And we say this to the ANC chief whip at all times‚ let us have Cabinet ministers being the ones answering questions here. Deputy ministers are not members of Cabinet‚” said Shivambu.
Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the rules were clear when it came to accountability.
“Ministers do have to account to the house and deputy ministers will answer on behalf of ministers and departments. But we will convey your concern on frequency of ministers not attending. There’s no question about responsibility of ministers‚” said Tsenoli. Mbalula’s spokesperson Esethu Hasane hit back‚ saying the minister was not in Spain to “take selfies”.
“The minister has been to account to Parliament several times throughout as a minister. You would know that there are many ways of accounting to Parliament.
There are oral and written questions. If minister has official business he always makes Parliament aware. I doubt the minister would travel to Barcelona to take selfies with a football club‚” said Hasane.
– TMG Digital