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Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe again had to defend himself for his holiday getaway to the Seychelles over Christmas and was grilled about the existence of a “secret handbook” that governs presidential travels.
Motlanthe’s office said last month that there was nothing untoward about his publicly-funded flights on a holiday to the Seychelles.
The DA said at the time that it would ask Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the matter.
Motlanthe left for a holiday on December 23 and flew back on January 4. He flew from South Africa on an SA Air Force Falcon 900, but the runway at his destination, Desroches island in the Seychelles, was unsuitable for it to land, so a local plane was chartered to complete the trip.
Documents put the cost of the charter at R83 000.
The cost of the Falcon 900 flight was estimated at R1 million, while Motlanthe covered the accommodation costs.
DA MP David Maynier brought the issue up again in the National Assembly when he asked Motlanthe what official duties he performed between December 23 and January 4.
“I did not perform any official duties between December 23, 2012, and January 4. Two weeks ago, during the debate on the State of the Nation address in this House, Honourable Maynier stated he would be asking me a question regarding my holiday to the Seychelles.
“Although he has not asked that specific question from the onset, I wish to alleviate his anxiety and respond to it,” said Motlanthe.
In terms of government policy adopted by cabinet, transport for the deputy president, whether for official or private purposes, was the responsibility of the State, he said.
Motlanthe added that the State also has a duty to provide security for the deputy president at all times, whether he is engaged in official duties or while he is on leave. “This policy was reaffirmed by the cabinet on March 20, 2007,” said Motlanthe.
Maynier responded that his “anxiety was not alleviated” because of conflicting statements by Motlanthe and President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman about the presidential handbook. One said the handbook existed; the other said he had no knowledge of if.
“This policy was duly adopted in March 2007. The question you are now raising of comments by spokes-persons is irrelevant to the facts,” said Motlanthe. All matters pertaining to transport and security of the deputy president were handled by the police (security, including ground transport) and the SANDF (air transport), Motlanthe said.