Minister lived the life of a jetsetter

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dec 15 Mashabane_cropped

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International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. Photo: Moloko Moloto

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would be forgiven for being mistaken for an international jet-setter, given that she spent R10 million in chartering 14 jets and R3m on luxury hotel accommodation in 15 months.

Over the past few months, details of excessive travel expenses incurred by members of President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet have been given in written replies to questions from DA MPs.

Nkoana-Mashabane said in a written reply that between April last year and June this year she had 14 chartered flights at a cost of more than R10.4m. She also spent R2.4m on tickets for 26 business class, 14 first class and three economy class flights.

While neither of Nkoana-Mashabane’s deputies – Ebrahim Ebrahim and Marius Fransman, whose bill included his predecessor’s – chartered any private jets, their international travel costs topped R1m for the same period. Their domestic travel bill was just over R416 000.

The DA’s spokesman on international relations, Kenneth Mubu, MP, said the party’s calculations indicated that, had the minister used commercial airlines, she would have saved taxpayers R9.6m.

“No doubt the cost of these flights to the South African people is the furthest thing from her mind as she kicks back on a luxury jet. Now she owes us all an explanation.”

Mubu said it was clear that private jets were the minister’s “preferred mode of transport”.

The DA intended asking the public protector to launch an investigation into the minister’s conduct.

Nkoana-Mashabane’s spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said she was the “most-travelled” minister because of the “responsibility attached to the portfolio”.

“Ministers in other countries get dedicated planes to execute their foreign policies. The minister doesn’t have a plane dedicated to her.”

Monyela said the chartered aircraft were to get to countries in Africa that were difficult to reach and didn’t have direct flights.

The minister was often called to respond to matters in other African countries at short notice.

“If there’s a cheaper way of flying across the continent, the minster would be happy to take it.”

Chartering flights was not the “preferred option” but at times “necessary”, he said.

Nkoana-Mashabane used 14 chartered private jets to visit several African countries.

She had used a chartered jet on October 17-26 last year to attend meetings in the capitals of Egypt, Kenya, North and South Sudan.

On December 19-21, the minister travelled to the capitals of north and south Sudan and a city in Equatorial Guinea.

On January 5-7, she chartered a flight to Nigeria and Ghana.

Asked whether the minister’s business class and first class flights were considered the cheaper option, Monyela said members of the executive’s mode of transport were regulated by the Ministerial Handbook, which “entitled” them to travel in those classes.

“This is what the Ministerial Handbook entitles ministers to do.”

Given his assertion that Nkoana-Mashabane preferred the cheapest option, why did she not travel economy class?

“Doing the number of trips to fulfil all that she should, can you imagine, what do you think that would do to her health?”

Mubu said: “This is the minister who, in September, chartered a flight from Oslo apparently to avoid having her luggage scanned.

“But now a different picture is emerging. The chartered flight from Oslo was not a one-off – expensive chartered flights are clearly her preferred mode of travel.” - Political Bureau


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Jonn, wrote

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09:28pm on 17 December 2011
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She is probably a drug mule. Why did she not want to open her handbag when asked by customs in Norway?

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Anonymous, wrote

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11:49pm on 16 December 2011
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There will always be "the poor" but with ministers like that... and all the other corruption a colapse is inevitable. Clearly not use to "keeping, maintaining & respecting" the system. Our country will soon be a just another starving African Country... Thank you Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for your contribution. "Take what you can and run"... SA mindset.

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Joe Public, wrote

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09:27pm on 16 December 2011
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Looks like there's another type of black "box" found on aircraft these days...

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Anonymous, wrote

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08:06pm on 16 December 2011
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Fly to other African countries at short notice?? Sort the problems at home out and let the rest take care of themselves. Home many people could of been housed, educated lifted out of poverty just on this one years expenses. It is nothing short of disgusting! This government has no idea whatsoever what it's priorities should be. Definetely not showing off to the rest of Africa.

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Hans, wrote

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02:49pm on 16 December 2011
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17 years of Independence for SA, 21 years of Independence for Namibia, and both countries have the same problems. Crime, unemployment, and greedy fatcat scumbag politicians who only care about lining their pockets. And the country goes downhill.

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Mostafa, wrote

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11:27am on 16 December 2011
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Dear Mrs Minister - you need to spend this money on training your useless foreign diplomats. They are SO SO useless in all countries I have worked in.

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dugsbaws, wrote

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10:40am on 16 December 2011
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This, Tart needs a good F**ing you know what...????

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david, wrote

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10:43am on 16 December 2011
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Since when is flying bad for ones health, sounds like zot logic to me

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:39am on 16 December 2011
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@ lilyblack - The 2 problems you mention are actually the same. Our politicians are just criminals who are above the law. They are the mafia, the untouchables, [allegedly] the biggest white collar criminals in the country and possibly the world.

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jean, wrote

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09:33am on 16 December 2011
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Ah yes... she of the international incident of bad will over handbag searches and a specially chartered plane... Eish: Love 'the Gravy Plane'!

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Anonymous, wrote

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09:19am on 16 December 2011
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I have always voted ANC,but come next elections i will not vote

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Anonymous, wrote

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06:54am on 16 December 2011
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What it would do to her health. What a joke. I travel overseas 10 times a year for business. In addition to the international flights, I take numerous domestic ones in the countries I visit. Guess what? All are economy. My health is fine and I guarantee I have flown a lot more than the minister. The genius who made this claim should be fired from their government cushy position. Obviously you do not need a brain to work for the SA Government.

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Anonymous, wrote

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05:03am on 16 December 2011
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As a person who frequently travels to Africa, I can understand the need to have chartered flights for some hard to reached places in Africa as SAA has failed to provide interconnectivity to the rest of Africa beyond the sub Sahara region. However, for her to use chartered planes in Europe, it is unforgiveable since Europe has the best transport connectivity in the world. I have been to Oslo before and I can vouch that there are many flights to Europe so there is no excuse for her to waste taxpayers money when 25% of South Africans are unemployed and a good number are living in townships. The spirit of serving the people and maximising taxpayer's return is missing!!

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Jay Nair, wrote

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04:28am on 16 December 2011
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Looks like the "Gravy Train' has not stopped yet. How long more will this go on my dear Pravin Gordhan? Remember the ousting of Dictators in other parts of the World!!!!

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eish, wrote

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09:55pm on 15 December 2011
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the gravy plane

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Lily Black, wrote

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08:28pm on 15 December 2011
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A good friend always remind me that our country's two biggest problems are criminals and politicians. Who can argue with him?

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mike , wrote

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07:03pm on 15 December 2011
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good lord is there no end to their greed!? They go on like celebrities, royalty and business moguls. You are a servant to the people, nothing more!

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dick, wrote

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06:09pm on 15 December 2011
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And these types are ruling South Africa!! God help us, and all those poor souls who can't afford to put a plate of food on their table at Christmas time. The ANC sucks!

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OutofAfrica, wrote

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04:45pm on 15 December 2011
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Why be surprised?? To feed at the public trough so that they can live high on the hog is why these people go into politics in the first place.

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Anonymous, wrote

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03:20pm on 15 December 2011
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I get the DA's complaints about chartered flights, but why is it wrong for her to travel business class when going overseas.

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