Minister overseas for 4 out of 11 months
Liesl Peyper, Die Burger
Cape Town - Buyelwa Sonjica, axed minister of water and environmental affairs, went on 19 overseas trips in less than a year.
These trips cost the department R9m in the 2009-10 financial year. The amount also includes the deputy minister's 15 overseas trips.
DA MP Piet Pretorius, a member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), said on Monday that Sonjica had spent 110 days abroad.
"This means that over a period of 11 months, she was overseas for four months - and that is a conservative calculation," said Pretorius.
Sonjica was recently removed from her office in President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle. Edna Molewa, former minister of social development, replaced her.
Water affairs deputy minister Rejoice Mabhudafhasi kept her job. She spent 75 days (almost three months) abroad over the 11-month period.
"Instead of paying attention to the crises in the department, the former minister and her deputy attended conferences abroad," said Pretorius.
He was especially unhappy because the department cancelled a meeting with Scopa last week at the last minute.
The new minister (Molewa) was summoned to explain matters highlighted in the Auditor-General's forensic report.