Answers wanted from Zille over R1m trip to Asia

Cape Town - The Western Cape Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) says it will seek answers from Premier Helen Zille about the benefits of her trip to Asia which reportedly cost R1 million in taxpayers’ money.

The ANC said it will persue the matter through “different channels”.

ANC Western Cape Legislature caucus spokesperson Cobus Grobler said slammed the cost of Zille’s trip saying it was an “enormous amount” to pay to “investigate colonialism”. Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu said on Sunday the “trip” cost R636 000 and that direct business engagements were facilitated by provincial government-owned Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (Wesgro) at a budget of R500 000, with the specific aim of opening up economic partnerships between the Western Cape and Asia.

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Scopa says it will seek answers from Premier Helen Zille about the benefits of her trip to Asia which reportedly cost R1 million in taxpayers’ money. File picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Media

This was separate from the cost of travel, accommodation and all other included expenses.

Scopa chairperson and ACDP leader in the Western Cape Legislature Ferlon Christians on Sunday said the cost of Zille’s trip was discussed last week where she had been questioned about the benefits of it to Western Cape residents and South Africa as a whole.

“What we want is to see how is this going to benefit our country and the province. It is extremely difficult to comment because it’s not clear what trade agreements were made. As Scopa chairperson, we will question this,” he said.

Zille landed herself in hot water for her comments about colonialism following her trip to Singapore. She had posted a series of tweets in which she suggested not every aspect of the legacy of colonialism was bad. Zille now faces a DA disciplinary hearing.

Mpofu said opening up “halaal markets in Asia for Western Cape agri-processing products, and encouraging tourism from that region, was among the objectives of our agenda in Singapore/Japan”.

“We outright reject any allegation that this trip was extravagant. It was a cost-effective means of unlocking foreign investment and commodity markets for key sectors in the Western Cape.

“At a time of declining confidence in South Africa in general, it is important to talk directly with key players, and give positive scenarios for the future, and reasons to visit South Africa and invest here.”

According to Mpofu, Dr Laurine Platsky, who planned the visit, had said it was backed by a carefully thought-out strategy for long-term exposure of the Western Cape to Singapore and Japanese tourism, and trade and investment markets.

“Already, feedback is positive from the engagement in relation to skills development, and an announcement will be made when the agreements have been signed. We cannot pre-empt them,” he said.

Cape Times

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