Former police minister Fikile Mbalula has broken his silence, saying he will challenge Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s finding that he violated the Constitution and the Executive Members Ethics Code over his family trip to Dubai in 2017.
“I have taken note of the findings by the Honourable Advocate Mkhwebane relating to my conduct as former Minister of Sports and Recreation.
“The conclusions of the Public Protector to the contrary are, with respect, unsubstantiated and prejudicial. They are strongly denied,” Mbalula said in a statement on Friday.
Mkhwebane found that a portion of the costs of a trip by Mbalula and his family to Dubai in 2017, when he was still a minister, was paid for by a company conducting business with the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), creating a conflict of interest.
Mbalula said that he had taken a short-term loan from a friend of 20 years, Yusuf Dockrat — a Sedgars Sport director — and that he had since paid back the money with interest. He further claims to have presented these facts and travel arrangements to the Public Protector during her investigation.
“I did not understand the Public Protector to have any evidence to the contrary (certainly, none was presented to me). This being so, I do not understand the basis on which my evidence was rejected,” he said.
Mkhwebane said neither Mbalula nor Dockrat could provide proof of a loan during her investigation.
The former sports and police minister further claimed that a short-term loan did not have to be disclosed, in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Code.
“Mr Dockrat decided to make the loan to me through Reimon Uniforms. This was a decision he made in his own discretion. The loan was concluded with him in his personal capacity. Sedgars Sport did not give the loan, nor did it pay for my family vacation, in any way,” he insisted.
Mbalula further clarified that Sascoc is an autonomous body under the department of sport and recreation.
“To suggest otherwise undermines the good work that Sascoc does. The Ministry has no control or influence over its decision-making process, and it certainly has no control or influence in its decisions in relation to procurement,” he said.
Mbalula said he would challenge the Public Protector’s report in court.
“It has now become necessary for me to consider challenging the findings in a court of law. I am presently consulting with my attorneys in this regard.
“The short-term loan that I used in order to pay for my family trip has long since been repaid. I have repaid the entirety of the outstanding amount, with interest. I do not understand the Public Protector’s report to suggest otherwise,” he concluded. — News24