Zille would welcome probe into R1.1m Singapore trip

2017-05-08 11:46
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille (Jan Gerber, News24)

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Cape Town – Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says she would welcome an investigation by the Auditor General into her recent trip to Asia, which cost the taxpayer more than R1.1m.

"Absolutely. He must investigate it. I have no problem with that. He does it in any case and I welcome it," she told Netwerk24 on Sunday, after the ANC indicated that it would ask the AG to investigate the matter.

Zille’s tweets on the trip, especially about Singapore, have left her political career in the balance.

She is facing four charges of having brought the DA into disrepute and damaging the party’s interests. This follows a series of tweets about Singapore, in which she said the legacy of colonialism wasn’t all negative. She later apologised for her comments, saying she never intended to defend colonialism.

Responding to a question by ANC chief whip Pierre Uys in the provincial legislature on Thursday, Zille said the cost of the trip was R636 159. It was for five people, including her husband, Professor Johann Maree.

It included accommodation and travel costs, as well as other expenses during the trip to Singapore and Japan. An amount of R500 000 was also paid to Wesgro, the province’s investment and trade promotion agency, which facilitated the seminar and activities in the two countries.

R127 000 per person

Zille said on Sunday that the trip cost an average of R127 000 per person.

"Some stayed for 14 days and others nine days. If one looks at the average costs, this is well within limits. We did a great deal of work there," she said.

Details of the lessons learnt from the trip, especially the Singapore part of it, were sent to Netwerk24 on Sunday.

Among the aspects the delegation investigated was how the country restructured its economy by regularly identifying targets and adapting as circumstances changed. The country has also changed its technical education system over the span of 50 years so that, at present, it offers training for the present and the future workforce.

Meanwhile, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in East London on Saturday that the party was not being helped by public discussions and arguments on topics such as colonialism.

- Read more: Zille's tweets will not derail us - Maimane

"We live in a time of heightened racial tension, the embers of which are regularly reignited by those who stand to benefit from mistrust and division. But we don’t have to buy into it, and we don’t have to fan the flames."

Read more on:    da  |  helen zille  |  cape town  |  politics  |  government spending

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