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You paid R3.5m for government 'jaunt' to Geneva - and the DA wants answers

Minister Thulas Nxesi.
Minister Thulas Nxesi.
Image: BusinessDay

The newly established employment and labour department spent a whopping R3‚429‚695.97 on a 12-day trip for 35 delegates to Geneva‚ Switzerland.

The delegates accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa to a conference hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last month.

Now the DA wants minister Thulas Nxesi to give a detailed report of what was achieved by the delegation‚ and how it has addressed SA's unemployment crisis.

DA MP Michael Cardo said the public deserved to know why it was necessary for Nxesi’s department to send one of the largest delegations to Geneva - with it costing South African taxpayers millions.

"In the face of unprecedented levels of unemployment and economic stagnation‚ austerity measures are a necessity for government ... the jamboree to Geneva seems difficult to justify‚" he said on Wednesday.

Cardo said the department would do better to channel its energy and resources to helping the more than 10-million unemployed South Africans get a foot on the labour-market ladder.

The details of the "junket" were revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question Cardo posed to Ramaphosa.

The reply shows that Nxesi was accompanied by 18 officials from his department‚ including his personal assistant. There were four Cosatu officials‚ including the labour federation's president Zingisa Losi and its general-secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

There was one delegate each from the National Council of Trade Unions and Fedusa‚ and five delegates from Business Unity SA.

Cardo said there were 62 accredited delegates in total from SA‚ one of the largest delegations from any country.

The state did not only pay for flights‚ accommodation and insurance fees for each of the delegates‚ but more than R640‚000 was spent on "allowances".

He said the DA would write to Nxesi to request a full‚ detailed report on whether the objectives of the trip were achieved‚ and that the report be tabled in parliament's committee on employment and labour.

"The DA and the public deserve to know the breakdown of costs for each of the delegates that attended‚ what they achieved and how they contributed‚ and how the department will be implementing the lessons learnt from the trip to help the 10.2 million unemployed South Africans.

"The average cost per delegate was almost an astronomical R100‚000‚ and if no tangible solutions to solve joblessness come from this trip to Geneva it would have been nothing more than a luxury vacation to one of the world's most expensive cities and a colossal waste of public money‚" he said.

He added that this was an indictment on the newly appointed minister‚ who apparently approved the expenditure.


- TMG Digital.

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