Premier Alan Winde’s office has refused to disclose the exact details relating to the cost of his trip to the US for which the taxpayer had to fork out R1.6 million.
This was after Winde told ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore in a parliamentary answer that:
• R535 885.00 was spent on hotels,
• R454 183.78 on airfares which saw
Winde and director-general Harry Malila travel business class while three other officials from the department travelled economy class
• R525 449.00 for transportation,
• R140 318.78 for food and drinks and
• R11 239.33 for other receipts or claims.
Asked for further details on the costs and what was achieved by the trip, Winde’s spokesperson Regan Thaw would only say: “This matter was fully and transparently dealt with in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.”
Among the questions asked were; how many days and nights did they spend in the US, and at which hotels etc, the modes of transport that cost more than half a million rand, and what were the other receipts and claims?
Winde had come under fire for the trip in June, which he said was to assure the US Government that the Western Cape remained committed to the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), among others. This was despite Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel’s efforts in engaging with his US counterpart on matters concerning AGOA.
It appears these may have paid off as South Africa will host the 20th U.S.-sub-Saharan AGOA Forum in Johannesburg, from November 2-4 where an extension of AGOA beyond its 2025 expiration, is set to take centre stage.
Dugmore said the DA continued to “duck and dive” being transparent about a detailed breakdown of the costs of the trip.
“We remain of the view, that it was a political exercise attempting to undermine the role of the national government in maintaining the AGOA agreement. The AGOA agreement is a national matter and the provincial government has no locus standi in regards to this. It was a wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money.
“We are going to ask the auditor-general to fully investigate the entire trip and obtain a detailed breakdown of all monies spent.”
EFF MPL, Aishah Cassiem said: “The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is aimed at enhancing market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African Countries. So, this is a piece of legislation which only deals with matters of trade amongst countries at the highest level and nowhere does this legislation mention agreements between the US and provinces such as the Western Cape.
“So, from where we stand the Premier, the provincial minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities and other staff members flew all the way to the US, wasting (R1.6 million) of taxpayers’ money in the process just to meet with staff members from different senate committees to discuss matters which are way above their pay grade?”
University of South Africa lecturer of professional ethics, Mametlwe Sebei said the amount spent was “outrageous to say the least”.
“It speaks to the sense of entitlement of the elite in general. The DA's perspective seems to boil down to this:
it's only wrong when done by the ANC and their cronies in the black capitalist class. When they or their cronies in the white capitalist class do the same, it's suddenly not a problem. This reeks of a false sense of racial superiority.
“The DA is always quick to condemn overspending by the ANC, but doesn't seem to hold themselves to the same standards.
They complain about a lack of transparency and accountability, and while I agree that’s an issue with the ANC, the DA should be held to the same scrutiny.”
He said public money is public money, regardless of the party in power.
“Relying on government funds for such trips, especially when it’s outside the scope of provincial government competence, is unethical.
“Foreign policy is the domain of the national government, there’s no way the Americans are going to decide on their relations with SA, other than on the basis of the policy of the national government. The US has an ambassador here and intelligence hard at work analysing the political structure of South Africa.
“You don’t need to spend R1.6 million to tell them the obvious, they know you disagree with the national government,” he said.
Civic organisation STOP COCT’s, Sandra Dickson said: “I find it difficult that the central government would send a DA Western Cape dominated delegation not having any representation from the other eight provinces. That reeks from a province that is seriously attempting to operate separate from the rest of the country.”