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Minister's 'second honeymoon' flagged

Publish date: 20 January 2020
Issue Number: 856
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: General

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly used thousands of rands of public money to fund her wedding anniversary celebrations in the US and Switzerland, taking her husband Thato Abrahams along without permission from President Cyril Ramaphosa. According to a Weekend Argus report, they took two international trips in September to New York and Switzerland. According to internal documents and senior government officials, the Minister attended a conference in New York and then went to Geneva to take part in a congress. Ndabeni-Abrahams’ spokesperson, Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini, confirmed the Minister’s husband had accompanied her on the two international trips, but claimed that Ramaphosa’s permission was not required for his travel in terms of the Ministerial Handbook. However, says the report, a Cabinet Minister said they were required to motivate for and seek presidential approval for spouses each time Ministers wanted them to accompany them on overseas trips. ‘Each and every trip, you need to make an application in writing within 14 days and motivate why you must take your spouse along,’ the Minister is quoted as saying. And the report points out that chapter 6 of the Ministerial Handbook states clearly that ‘Ministers and Deputy Ministers should approach the President in writing to request approval for the intended visit and in the event of a planned official visit abroad, such request should be at least two weeks prior to departure’. Ndabeni-Abrahams has undertaken 15 international trips since her appointment as a Minister, but her husband accompanied her on only those two trips which coincided with their wedding anniversary. ‘The trips were their second honeymoon courtesy of South African taxpayers,’ said a senior government official.

Full Weekend Argus report (subscription needed)