Women 'junket' - only 7 ministers went
Johannesburg - Only seven ministers and 18 officials attended a United Nations gender summit in New York, while MPs and NGOs attended side-events, the department of women said on Monday.
"The department rejects the false allegations made in the Sunday Times...that SA sent a large delegation to this meeting," spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said.
He said that delegation members did not arrive in New York and return to South Africa at the same time, nor did they all stay for the duration of the meeting.
"The newspaper has maliciously added up delegates to the NGO forum, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and a correctional services visit to New York prisons to falsely give an impression," he said.
The newspaper reported that a 49-member delegation flew on return business class tickets on SAA at a cost of R81 104 per person.
It claimed Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula forced herself on to the guest list and failed to attend any of the sessions.
Those who did not make it into the conference venue, spent their time shopping and clubbing in New York the paper said, quoting a government official.
Mngadi told Sapa that two ministers, five deputy-ministers and 18 gender officials attended the 55th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in late February and early March.
These were Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana, who led the group, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and deputy ministers Elizabeth Thabethe of trade and industry, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu of public works, Deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu, her health counterpart Gwen Ramokgopa and Deputy Higher Education Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
"The gender officials were from different departments whose primary goal was to look at policies and make sure they were gender-sensitive and catered for the interests of women," Mngadi said.
Three MPs attended the interparliamentary union to "discuss political violence against women as well as meeting millennium development goals".
The remaining attendees were five South African civil society organisations with a number of representatives.
Mngadi said the departments were accredited and required to report back, which they did.
"Certainly from our department we can say there was a budget set aside for this matter as it is one of our primary portfolios...the departments participated at their own cost," he said.
"The minister [Xingwana] feels the trip was successful. We have finalised reports on South African participation...these will be available soon."