The office of the Western Cape Premier‚ which came under fire for her recent trip to Asia‚ has brushed off criticism that the costs were excessive.
On Monday Helen Zille’s office issued a statement rejecting what it called “all agenda-driven attempts to claim that the amount of R636‚000 was excessive to cover all travel”.
The trip included visits to Japan and Singapore. Zille’s spokesman Michael Mpofu said the trip was ‘’an important trade‚ tourism‚ and investment mission’’.
“This amounted to an average of R127‚000 per delegation member‚ 3 of whom were overseas for 8 days and the other 2 persons for 16 days‚” said Mpofu.
Mpofu added that the Western Cape government does not have the excessive funds that the national government has when going on mission trips abroad.
“The planning of the tourism‚ trade and investment mission was both cost-effective and entirely in line with public finance regulations.”
“If costs cannot be incurred to undertake missions to these Asian markets‚ then we will be unable to secure the economic return for the province. The track record of our economic strategy speaks for itself‚” he said.
Mpofu called on the public to note that delegates do not stay at five star hotels and that the seminars they attend take place at the hotel to cut down on cost travelling costs.
“Hotels were recommended by the SA Embassy and High Commissioner in both cases where special rates had previously been negotiated and the proximity to the SA missions were a priority.”
ANC provincial chief whip‚ Pierre Uys‚ had said he would ask the auditor-general to investigate the costs of the trip.