Mbalula Beyonce blow-up
US SUPERSTAR Beyonce is still on track to perform at the SA Sports Awards, but Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula's department denies splashing out R17-million to secure her signature - after a backlash from local stars.
A number of celebrities, including actress Florence Masebe, singers Kabomo, Sibongile Khumalo, Arthur Mafokate, and even Cosatu general-secretary Zwelinzima Vavi took to Twitter yesterday morning to express their shock at the amounts of money that are being bandied about.
Mbalula has been accused of failing to prioritise issues of sports development, and of wasting taxpayers' money on an international performer, when local stars could come for less money.
But department of sport director-general Alec Moemi was quoted by Sapa yesterday as saying that the rumours were a "fabrication".
He is reported to have told Sapa: "No contract for R17-million has been signed. We will not endorse such a thing. But if other people pay for it and it is in line with our mandate, we are happy."
Moemi said the department issued a tender every year asking companies to detail what they would do if they won the awards tender.
One company used the singer's name in its pitch and said it would arrange sponsors. This apparently caught the department's fancy.
Moemi added: "If we can get Beyonce without paying for Beyonce, we'd be very keen. It's a lie to say we are paying for it . sponsors would pay for it. The base cost of the awards is ours."
Last year's SA Sports Awards were held at Sun City. Mbalula invited US R&B star Brandy Norwood and actresses Regina King and Vivica A Fox to perform and present awards.
Mbalula then invited Norwood back with her brother Ray J and Keri Hilson for his 40th birthday bash in October.
For the launch of his Fikile Mbalula Foundation on June 28, the minister has invited Diary of a Mad Black Woman actress Kimberly Elise, Think Like a Man's Regina Hall, Sanna Lathan (The Cleveland Show), Victoria's Secret model Selita Ebanks and even Christine Teigen, who is engaged to US singer John Legend.
Kabomo tweeted yesterday: "I got a call from award organisers.
"I offered them a discount price, but they said that I was too expensive."
Vavi tweeted: "Example of an own goal. Mr Mbalula paying Beyonce R17-million for an hour's work when we have artists in SA?"
Masebe said: "Let's make it clear! #Beyonce cannot perform at the SA Sports Awards. Mbalula needs to hear this. Spend money on getting our athletes winning on the field of play." - Additional reporting by Sapa