The Democratic Alliance has accused communications minister Faith Muthambi of embarking on a R600 000 “junket” to the US, where she visited a luxury goods show and a folk art festival.
DA MP Gavin Davis said on Thursday that Muthambi admitted in a reply to a question in parliament that she spent R593 616,18 on the nine-day trip.
“This seems an extraordinary waste of public money at a time when our cabinet ministers should be tightening their belts. I will be calling on the minister to justify this trip at the next meeting of the communications portfolio committee,” Davis said in a statement.
According to Davis, Muthambi, who is the political leader in charge of South Africa’s digital terrestrial television migration project, visited the Atlanta Lifestyle Hub Show and the Santa Fe Folk Art Market on 8 July. Her bodyguard, as well as her chief of staff and an assistant director in her department accompanied her.
“Muthambi’s decision to spend R600 000 of public money on a nine-day trip of this nature is certainly questionable. The South Africa Lifestyle Hub in Atlanta is a permanent showcase of high-end products for sale to the American market,” he said.
“According to the Lifestyle Hub website, ‘a unique array of furniture, home décor, and giftware all handcrafted from hide, beads, clay or fine linen’ are on display. The Sante Fe Folk Art Market is an exhibition of folk art from around the world. Both events have very little to do with the minister’s mandate.”
Davis said the minister “appears to have developed a taste for international travel in the short time she has been a member of the cabinet”.
“There is nothing wrong with cabinet ministers travelling abroad if the trips can be justified and do not distract them from their core mandate. We therefore call on Muthambi to tell us exactly how this R600 000 trip to the US benefited the South African public.”
TechCentral has asked Muthambi’s office for comment. – © 2015 NewsCentral Media