Xingwana overseas as ‘house burns’

2013-03-05 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, was under fire again yesterday over an overseas visit.

Her department is mired in controversy, with reports of jobs for pals and accusations of mismanagement.

Last week, she was forced to apologise after saying on Australian TV that Afrikaner men believed they “owned” women.

She is now in New York, leading a South African delegation to a United Nations conference on women that began yesterday and runs until March 15.

The IFP said yesterday it was unacceptable that Xingwana was attending a “talk shop” overseas while the country was on its knees because of rape.

Spokespersons for the ministry and department did not react to requests for comment on the cost of the visit, but the DA’s Helen Lamoela said she “shudders” to think how much the “one-party [ANC]” delegation is costing the taxpayer.

“Her house is on fire, but she decides to go overseas,” she said.

Xingwana has been under fire for spending millions of rands on furniture for her department’s offices. And last week, a report listed damning instances of nepotism in her department.

She is accompanied in New York by, among others, the acting director-general, Thandeka Mxenge, and the chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee, Dorothy Ramodibe.

Sister paper Die Burger learnt from officials that “someone else” is now acting as director-general in place of the acting director-general.

Lamoela commented: “Last week, Mxenge couldn’t even give a proper presentation to the portfolio committee on the department’s turnaround plan, but is now going to make presentations to the United Nations.”

Xingwana and her managers were sent packing because their documentation was in such a mess. The conference lasts until just days before the department is expected back in Parliament to try to answer questions about its plans.

The turnaround strategy is urgent amid problems over finances and mismanagement.

The IFP’s Liezel van der Merwe said the turnaround planning is at a critical phase and Xingwana and her director-general should have stayed in South Africa to provide leadership.

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