Cape Town mayor’s R2.2m for 5 trips abroad
Cape Town - Five international trips by Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille in five months of this year will cost ratepayers R2.2 million.
This is five times as much as she spent in the whole of the last financial year when travel costs for her and her delegations only amounted to R409 015.
De Lille has already gone on two of the trips approved by her deputy Ian Neilson during the election recess period in June, in the past two weeks.
The ANC said the expenditure was “unacceptable”, while the ACDP labelled the trips “ridiculous”.
But city council spokeswoman Priya Reddy said the expenditure was in line with the city council’s new approach to international relations and austerity measures adopted before the Treasury guidelines were issued in March.
Millions of rand were already being saved each year, she said.
“It was decided that the mayor would be the face of the city and that she would attend the most important events which would elevate the city’s international profile,” said Reddy.
In a circular, the Treasury urged municipalities to curtail overseas travel.
Strong motivations had to be submitted to municipal managers and mayors for local and international travel, it said.
While the city council has budgeted R12.5m for international travel in the 2016/17 financial year, Reddy said only between R3m and R4m was spent across the city council annually.
Since the start of the 2016/17 financial year in July, the cost of international trips for city council officials had amounted to R694 067 and R102 864 for councillors and mayoral committee members.
Last month De Lille led a delegation of the city council and Wesgro to Turkey to promote Cape Town as an investment destination and to stimulate the market for locally produced goods and services.
Last week De Lille travelled to the Netherlands for three days to attend the inaugural assembly of the Global Parliament for Mayors.
The two trips cost the city council more than R400 000.
By far the most expensive trip De Lille is still to undertake will be a 10-day trip to the US in October, with city council and Wesgro officials, that will cost R850 000.
According to documents submitted to the council last month, the visit to Atlanta, Newark, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco is intended to “expand trade relations and to discuss sectors for investment targeting as well as educational linkages”.
She will be accompanied by the city council’s director of strategy and operations, Craig Kesson, who is listed as part of De Lille’s delegation on four of the five trips approved.