The DA will compel Minister of Sport and Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, to tell Parliament how much his department has spent on what appears to be another lavish junket for sports officials. We are particularly interested in hearing whether the state footed the bill for Julius Malema’s stay in the luxurious Corinthia Hotel in London during the first week of the Olympic Games.
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.
Responses to DA questions on ministerial flights revealed last year that Minister Mbalula and his deputy have spent a combined total of over R2.6 million on 345 domestic and international flights since 1 April 2010. This year, the department has a budget of R36.9 million for travel and subsistence.
Now there are allegations that the department may have been footing the bill for a visit to London by the former ANC youth league president, Julius Malema. This would of course be over and above the bill for other officials from the department attending the festivities in London and the costs related to the Ekhaya Hospitality Centre set up to provide a “homely environment to the South African fan-base” in London.
The Ekhaya Hospitality Centre will be in operation for the duration of the Olympics and Paralympic Games. It is an intergovernmental initiative spearheaded by the Department of Sport and Recreation. The Department is reportedly refusing to disclose information on the costs involved in the running of the centre and the various entertainment acts that will be staged there over the next six weeks. We will use our representation in parliamentary structures to get information on the costs related to this project as well as the number of officials attending events at Ekhaya.
The Department of Sport and Recreation has to date been rather vague on the exact amounts of funding allocated to each of South Africa’s sporting codes and top athletes. The information from our parliamentary questions should put us in a position to determine how the funding allocated to South Africa’s sporting heroes compares to that spent on government officials enjoying the Olympic spectacle in London.
Our Olympic athletes are once again showing how sport can unite and reconcile South Africans in the quest for national pride. Minister Mbalula must prove to us that our athletes’ performance is his top priority.