The DA pointed to the “frailties” of the Ministerial Handbook after weekend reports that Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams went on a “baecation” with her husband last year using public funds, along with allegations that she had allowed him to interfere in her department.
The minister has denied the allegations.
The Sunday Independent reported that the minister had not had permission from Ramaphosa to take her husband, Thato Abrahams, on the trips to the US and Europe in September last year and that she “allowed her husband to attend official meetings” related to her department.
The minister had not needed Ramaphosa’s permission, however, which the DA has said does not excuse her actions.
Two return business class tickets to Switzerland alone cost the state an alleged R76,719, and her husband had reportedly even used his wife’s officially supplied “chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz S600” to travel from Geneva to Paris, in France, “to go shopping”.
The DA’s MP Phumzile Van Damme likened the minister’s actions to those of former minister of communications Dina Pule, who also spent thousands of taxpayers’ money on an overseas trip with her boyfriend.
She said her party’s view was that the trip had been nothing more than a luxury vacation, a massive waste of public money and an indictment on the communications minister.
“Although there is no set requirement in the Ministerial Handbook for the president to approve the inclusion of a spouse for official trips, the DA still wants her to come clean about her husband allegedly interviewing candidates and attending official meetings on her behalf.
“Quite clearly, the frailties of the Ministerial Handbook are yet again being used to justify luxury expenses, at the expense of poor South Africans who are expected to continuously foot the bill.
“The DA will, therefore, submit parliamentary questions to request the full details of Mr Abrahams’ participation on this official overseas jaunt. The DA will remain resolute and vigilant in exposing ANC’s insatiable greed and will ensure the truth is uncovered in this regard.”
Van Damme said they limited business class flights and allowed no 5-star hotels where they were in government.
“The DA will not allow brazen attempts to fool the people of this country to go unchecked. In the current economic climate, austerity measures are a necessity,” said Van Damme.
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)