Tax payers cough up R7.6m annually for minister’s spouses to travel overseas

Tax payers cough up R7.6m annually for minister’s spouses to travel overseas

- Cabinet ministers are spending R7.6 million per year for their wives, husbands and children to accompany them on overseas trips

- The revelation came in a series of written Parliamentary replies from ministers to the DA

- International spousal travel costs include business-class flights, daily meal allowance and other incidental or miscellaneous costs

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 35 cabinet ministers are spending R7.6 million per for their wives, husbands, children and sometimes extended family members to accompany them on (oftentimes lavish) overseas trips.

Paris and New York are among the favoured destinations for these taxpayer-funded trips. The Ministerial Handbook makes provision for international spousal travel costs to include business-class flights, daily meal allowances and other incidental or miscellaneous costs incurred.

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Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been pegged as one of the biggest spenders out of the 35 cabinet ministers. Her husband Charles Nqakula has accompanied her on at least 29 separate occasions to destinations such as Paris, London and Moscow.

Briefly.co.za gathered that each of those international flights come with a minimum flight cost of R92 000. The couple has also conducted extensive travels throughout Africa which does cost significantly less than overseas travel.

TimesLive.co.za reported that other big spenders are (somewhat ironically) former and current finance ministers Malusi Gigaba and Nhlanhla Nene. Both men have on various occasions called for government officials to practice restraint when spending public funds.

Gigaba was heavily criticised when it emerged he had spent R670 129 for his wife Norma to accompany him on an international investor roadshow last year when he was serving as finance minister.

Nene has also come in for criticism from the DA after it emerged he spent R440 427 on spousal travel between 2014 and 2016. These costs were incurred during his first stint as finance minister under former president Jacob Zuma.

Nene has spent an additional R123 427 for his wife Lisa to accompany him on international trips since he was reappointed by Ramaphosa in February.

These shocking revelations came in a series of written answers from ministers to questions about their travel costs from Democratic Alliance (DA) Members of Parliament (MPs).

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The party has since written to Ramaphosa asking him to severely limit these types of expenses because the country simply cannot afford such costs.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the president was applying his mind to making effective changes to the ministerial handbook. Diko added that Ramaphosa has previously asked for prudence when ministers manage and use public funds.

The DA said it was shocked that the government was spending such vast amounts of money on people who had no official duties to perform.

Ramaphosa has yet to deliver on his promise of trimming down the bloated cabinet which he inherited from Zuma although he has reshuffled the ministers.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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