DA seeks Treasury probe into who funded municipal officials' jaunt to France for RWC final

Threewaterskloof deputy mayor John Michels with SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and vice-president Francois Davids in France.
Threewaterskloof deputy mayor John Michels with SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and vice-president Francois Davids in France.
Image: John Robert Michels / Theewaterskloof News / Facebook

The DA has asked the provincial treasury in the Western Cape to investigate if taxpayers’ money funded a trip to France by two municipal officials to watch the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday . 

Threewaterskloof municipality deputy mayor John Michels and speaker Derick Appel planned to visit embassies and potential project partners during their trip abroad this week.  

DA constituency head Isaac Sileku on Tuesday said the party had taken note of a letter addressed to the department of international relations and co-operation by the municipal manager “requesting approval for the trip”. The pair also planned to travel to the UK to meet the Leicester Tigers Rugby Club. 

Sileku questioned if the trip was being undertaken “under the guise of an official state visit” and demanded an explanation from the municipality run by a coalition of the PA, ANC and GOOD. 

Mayor Mary Liebenberg, in response, denied taxpayers’ funded the trip. 

“The municipality did not pay for any of their expenses and did not send them,” she posted on the municipality’s Facebook page.

“They decided that while they're in France they would, on their own accord, visit embassies and potential project partners to investigate and forge opportunities for Theewaterskloof municipality and the people of this municipal area. 

“They will also discuss sporting opportunities for the youth of Theewaterskloof with rugby and other roleplayers.”

Liebenberg confirmed the municipal manager had written to a “relevant organ of state” to “request diplomatic support and recognition” as they intended holding talks with government institutions abroad. 

She thanked the pair for, “out of their own pockets”, being willing to negotiate “partnership agreements” with municipalities in France. 

“If these official visits are being used as a guise to attend the Rugby World Cup, it raises serious ethical and financial concerns,” Sileku said on Thursday. 

“We have requested the provincial treasury to investigate this matter to determine whether this excursion genuinely serves the interests of the people of Theewaterskloof and whether municipal funds in the form of daily allowances or otherwise have been paid to the officials.” 

Michels responded to the broadside fired by the DA in a post on the Theewaterskloof News Facebook page: “The lies of the DA never end. Sis, you should be ashamed of yourselves.” 

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