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Pretoria - Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, is back in New York, evoking concern from the DA which recalled on Tuesday that the minister has demonstrated a taste for the finer type of travel arrangements.
They were referring to a row over Xingwana’s 2011 trip to New York which cost R6.8 million. At the time, Xingwana complained that it was unreasonable to expect that she and her staff stay in a “pondok” or fly “lala-class” (economy class).
On Tuesday Xingwana’s department announced that the minister was leading the South African government delegation to the 57th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) at the UN headquarters in New York this week.
Department spokeswoman Phuti Mabelebele said Xingwana and her team flew to New York over the weekend and got straight to work.
The theme of the UN conference is “Equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS” . It ends on March 15, but it is not clear if the minister will stay for the full duration of conference.
Mabelebele said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Correctional Services Minister, Ngoako Ramathlodi, and Deputy Police Minister, Maggie Sotyu, were also part of the delegation.
She said the chief executive for the Film and Publications Board, Yoliswa Makhasi - which placed an age restriction on The Spear painting of President Jacob Zuma last year - and representatives from the National Prosecuting Authority were also “in attendance”.
It is unclear who paid for this group’s travel costs.
DA MP Helen Lamoela on Tuesday slammed Xingwana’s trip, saying the minister being abroad “on business” was “cold comfort” to the millions of vulnerable South Africans who need help here at home. “She is hardly in Parliament for key debates and she cannot spend her budget on items that fulfil her mandate,” Lamoela said. “What she is very good at is spending her budget on luxury items like five- star hotels, first-class flights and fancy office furniture.”
A fortnight ago it was reported that Xingwana spent R2.1m on redecorating her office with new custom-made furniture
. Xingwana made news last week when she suggested that Calvinist culture led to Afrikaner men thinking that they owned women and children and this led to family murders. Xingwana apologised but her remarks are being scrutinised by the SA Human Rights Commission.