Health deputy defies Mbeki

Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge took a "consultant" in her office and her son on a trip to Spain, allegedly without obtaining presidential approval, at a cost of R160000 to the taxpayer.

Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge took a "consultant" in her office and her son on a trip to Spain, allegedly without obtaining presidential approval, at a cost of R160000 to the taxpayer.

Ministers and deputy ministers need the president's approval to travel outside the country.

The three flew business class, stayed at a luxury hotel and were allocated generous spending money while abroad, City Press reported yesterday.

An anonymous whistle-blower has written a letter to President Thabo Mbeki to draw his attention to the unauthorised Madrid trip.

Madlala-Routledge said she had been invited by the International Aids Vaccine Initiative to address a seminar on an Aids vaccine. She told the then acting Health Minister Lulu Xingwana that she would be taking her son, Simon, an NGO activist, and Sukhthi Naidoo on the trip.

But in a written reply Xingwana advised Madlala-Routledge to ask the president for permission to go on the trip.

Madlala-Routledge then wrote to Mbeki to request presidential authority for the overseas trip.

Mbeki replied on June 11, a day before she was to travel, with a written one-liner - Not Approved - and added his signature.

But Madlala-Routledge went ahead anyway. - Sapa

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