Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen said on Monday that his recent day trip to Dubai was a private visit “long before confirmation” of him being appointed as finance minister.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Port Elizabeth City Hall ahead of an official visit to the Helenvale Resource Centre in the city’s gang plagued Northern Area’s, van Rooyen said: “The Dubai issue, as much as one appreciates that I am a public figure simply suggests all of a sudden my private life is something for public scrutiny, but I must indicate now I went to Dubai and I arranged my visit to Dubai which was a private visit long before I made a confirmation of myself as a finance minister.”
His comments come in the wake of a report in the Sunday Times that Van Rooyen and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane travelled to the city in December, while the controversial Gupta family were there.
“I think like any other citizen of the country I am entitled to arrange private visits when there is an opportunity. I thought there was an opportunity for me to undertake that visit and I undertook it,” he said.
Van Rooyen added that he was supposed to stay in Dubai for a week but he did not have the money to do so.
“It was a private visit. I paid for it. I was suppose to stay for a week but I didn’t have money,” he said.
The report about Van Rooyen’s visit to Dubai follows allegations that the Guptas have been influencing the appointment of government ministers in President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has admitted that he was offered a promotion days before Nhlanhla Nene was fired as finance minister. Nene was briefly replaced by Van Rooyen, before Zuma brought Pravin Gordhan back to the portfolio.