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Johannesburg - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has a “grandiose vision” for his department that does not take budgetary constraints into account, according to the DA.
The party has called for a breakdown of the department’s travel spending after its 2011/ 2012 annual report revealed it spent more than R37 million on travel and subsistence.
DA sports and recreation spokesman Winston Rabotapi said on Monday the department’s R37m expenditure represented a R6.6m increase in spending on travel and subsistence from the previous financial year.
Rabotapi said he would be submitting parliamentary questions to Mbalula, asking for details of this spending over the past year.
This is not the first time Mbalula and his department have come under fire for extravagant spending patterns.
Last month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela confirmed she was to probe allegations of fruitless and wasteful expenditure by Mbalula and his deputy, Gert Oosthuizen, after it emerged the department had spent R2.6m on international and domestic flights between April 2010 and early this year.
Earlier this year, Mbalula was accused of squandering taxpayers’ money on a junket to the London Olympic Games and of paying for expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s trip to the games.
Mbalula dismissed the allegations, saying he had gone to London to support the SA team and that he had not paid for Malema, although he did not deny spending time with him in London.
The DA has accused the Sports Ministry of sending too many officials to the games and has called on the minister to tell Parliament how much the department spent on its London trip.
In June, Mbalula caused a stir when he told Joburg radio station KayaFM he wanted to bring American superstar Beyoncé to perform as the headline act at the second annual SA Sports Awards next month.
The sports minister spared no costs on stars, including Brandy Norwood, Vivica A Fox and Regina King, at last year’s awards, which cost R45.9m.
Rabotapi said R8m of this had come from the National Lotteries Board, despite these funds having been earmarked for Olympic athletes, and R12.1m from the department.
“It appears that despite the ongoing investigation by the public protector, minister Mbalula and his department are content to continue using public funds in support of their jet-setting lifestyles,” Rabotapi said.
Mbalula’s “grandiose vision” for his department did not seem to take budgetary constraints into account, as evidenced by his attempts to get Beyoncé to perform at the sports awards at a reported cost of R17m.
Rabotapi said the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of public funds must be probed and Mbalula held to account.
“The Department of Sports and Recreation must focus on supporting South African athletes and developing stars of the future, not attempting to set new records for frequent flyer miles using public funds.”
Mbalula’s spokesman and adviser, Justin de Allende, said on Monday the department was prepared to answer “anything from any party at Parliament”.
“It is our duty to do so. When the questions are submitted, we will answer them.”
De Allende said the department had already submitted all the relevant information requested by the public protector in the probe into fruitless and wasteful expenditure.