The Democratic Alliance has revealed that Communications Minister Faith Muthambi spent R593,516.18 on a nine-day trip to a luxury goods show and folk art festival in the US.
A reply to a parliamentary question noted that the deputy minister of Small Business Development extended an invitation to Muthambi to attend both the Atlanta Lifestyle Hub Show and the Santa FE Folk Art Market events “with other role-players to represent the country in these important gatherings”.
“This seems an extraordinary waste of public money at a time when our Cabinet Ministers should be tightening their belts,” said DA shadow minister of communications, Gavin Davis.
The DA pointed out that Muthambi’s bodyguard, and chief of staff and an assistant director in her department accompanied the minister.
“Minister Muthambi’s decision to spend R600,000 of public money on a nine-day trip of this nature is certainly questionable,” Davis said.
The South Africa Lifestyle Hub in Atlanta is a permanent showcase of high-end products for sale to the American market.
According to the Lifestyle Hub website: “a unique array of furniture, home décor, and giftware all handcrafted from hide, beads, clay or fine linen” are on display.
The Sante Fe Folk Art Market is an exhibition of folk art from around the world, the DA said.
“Both events have very little to do with the minister’s mandate. Instead of attending international lifestyle and art shows on the taxpayer’s dime, minister Muthambi should be focusing on the core business of her portfolio: to ensure that South Africans are informed of their rights and government services available to them,” Davis said.