Hotel figures wrong, minister says
Cape Town - Officials who bungled a reply to a parliamentary question on hotel accommodation are in for the high jump, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Thursday.
"As a result of this bungle, I have now been cast as an extravagant minister who willy-nilly splurges on luxury using taxpayers' money, and has scant regard for the millions of South Africans who live in abject poverty," she said in a statement.
The written reply, tabled on Monday, showed Joemat-Pettersson had spent more than R1.58m - since April 1 2009 - on hotel accommodation, all while on "official duties".
Among the expenses listed was a bill for R289 352 from the Peermont D'Oreal Grande Emperor's Palace in Johannesburg, for accommodation between September 16 and October 21 2009.
There was another for R420 000 for a month-long stay at Pure Toys One CC, also in Johannesburg, during June and July last year.
But according to the statement on Thursday, issued by her department, "the entries provided... were about meetings that Joemat-Pettersson held in the hotels with stakeholders, where refreshments and food were served, over the past two-and-a-half years.
"She did not sleep in any of those hotels," it said.
The statement quotes the minister as saying the officials responsible for the mistake will face disciplinary action.
"The senior officials in the department must take full responsibility for the wrong information provided to my office to answer the parliamentary questions on this matter," she said.
"Disciplinary action will be taken against those officials who gave me incorrect information."
According to the statement, Joemat-Pettersson "initially stayed in a hotel before moving to guest houses when it became apparent that DPW [the department of public works] was in no rush to provide her with a house in Pretoria".
It offers no details of this stay.
"Ever since I was allocated official accommodation in Pretoria, I have never stayed in a hotel," she said.
Joemat-Pettersson said she would welcome any probe by the public protector into the matter.