Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly enjoyed wedding anniversary celebrations with her husband in the US and Switzerland on taxpayers’ money.
This is according to a Sunday Independent report which stated that the minister also allowed her husband to attend official meetings.
The report added that Ndabeni-Abrahams’ husband enjoyed a chauffeur-driven ride in a Mercedes-Benz S600, allocated to the minister, from Geneva to Paris to go shopping.
“Ndabeni-Abrahams has also been accused of outsourcing departmental functions to her husband, by allowing him to interview candidates for positions,” the report stated.
Ministry spokesperson Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini confirmed that Ndabeni-Abrahams’ husband accompanied her on two international trips.
Mokitimi-Dlamini, however, denied that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s approval – which they did not get – was necessary for the minister’s husband to accompany her.
Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille disputed this view, arguing that ministers were always required to motivate and seek presidential approval for spouses for international trips.
Controversy plaguing communications department
This is not the first time that a communications minister has made headlines for using taxpayers’ money to take their partner on international trips.
In 2013, the Communications Minister at the time – Dina Pule – allegedly spent R700,000 of taxpayers’ money on an overseas trip with her partner Phosane Mngqibisa.
While Pule denied the allegations, travel documents showed that Mngqibisa was her official companion and that his bill was paid for by Pule in her official capacity.
According to the Sunday Times, Pule lived it up in the Ritz-Carlton in New York at a cost of R35,000 for 2 nights, and spent another R10,000 for luxury car use.
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Pule unlawfully extended her spousal benefits to her romantic partner Mngqibisa.
Pule was dismissed as communication minister and was forced to apologise in Parliament for her conduct.