The African National Congress (ANC) and the Western Cape Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) have called for an investigation into Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s recent R1.1 million trip to Asia.
Zille, together with her husband Johann Maree and some officers from her department recently embarked on a nine-day trip to Singapore and Japan, sponsored with taxpayers money.
The premier confirmed that the total bill for the trip amounted to R636,159 for travel and accommodation costs while Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro) – an arm of the Western Cape government meant to attract investment – was paid R500,000 for organizing seminars during the trip.
The seminars were aimed at opening up economic partnerships between the Western Cape and Asia.
She buttressed that it was the first trip with her husband in 8 years and wasn’t as costly as stipulated in the ministerial handbook, which she said allows such benefits for every trip. Her husband was doing research all through the trip – according to report.
Zille said she didn’t travel with her personal secretary, in a bid to save cost.
“If you look at the average cost per person of that delegation, it is R127,000 each, all inclusive – travel, accommodation, food, transport and everything.
If you look at the exchange rate between the Singapore dollar, Japanese yen and South African rand – especially around that time – you’ll see it is R127,000 average per person – for a long trip in very expensive cities where we learned an enormous amount – is within the ballpark,” she added.
The part that annoys her critics most was that the trip also brought with it a strong defense for colonialism – a view she holds to this day – aside from the R1.1 million cost.
Meanwhile, Scopa chairperson and ACDP leader in the Western Cape Legislature Ferlon Christians on Sunday questioned the trip, saying Zille should be ready to read out the benefits of the trip to Western Cape residents and South Africa as a whole.
ANC Western Cape Legislature caucus spokesperson Cobus Grobler expressed disappointment with the amount spent on the trip.
In a related report, DA party leader Mmusi Maimane has denied claims by Zille‚ that a recent Sunday Times article written by her was approved by his office.
The blue colour party leader stated this after Zille was said to have gone ‘rogue’ for writing the article. Maimane stressed that the embattled and controversial premier wrote it in her own capacity‚ ‘and not in the name of the DA’.
In her tweet, she claimed: “For the record, I submitted last week’s Sunday Times and Daily Maverick articles to @MmusiMaimane‘s office for vetting before publication. What rogue?”
The ‘rogue’ slur was fired by Times Media Editor-in-Chief Peter Bruce‚ who wrote in his column in the Sunday Times that Zille would ‘write and say what she wants now that she’s been charged by the party’.
The premier is facing a disciplinary hearing after she implied in her tweet that not every aspect of the legacy of colonialism was bad.