Minister overseas for 4 out of 11 months

2010-11-30 09:00

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.

  • AJ - 2010-11-30 09:22

    Yes, the 1st class tickets, the 5 star hotels, the entourage, catching up with mates at the embassies, shopping around town. Value add = zero. She probably hired someone specifically just to google any conference water related that she could pretend to attend. Parasites on the South Arican tax payer, nothing more.

  • Egg-Zachary - 2010-11-30 09:40

    You see!? Even the ministers who have been appointed to look after this country don't want to be here. What kind of message are you sending to your followers if you spend so much time out of the country (at our expense) and our water situation is on the verge of collapse! The ANC government disgusts me, they don't care about us!!!

  • meln888 - 2010-11-30 09:40

    and she was given the golden handshake after she stepped down.

  • Arthur Phili - 2010-11-30 09:48

    ANC supporters always stay away from articles like this. When there isn't potable water to drink will they remember this minister's role in their misery?

      bvniekerk - 2010-11-30 10:02

      Who needs potable water if you can have plenty potable money

      Arthur Phili - 2010-11-30 10:50


  • Rhenier Labuschagne - 2010-11-30 09:49

    That would explain the current state of our country's water resources.

  • j.malemmer - 2010-11-30 09:56

    Nothing new! Now the poor new guy must explain. hehehehehehj!!

  • IanJ - 2010-11-30 10:03

    Nothing replaces hard work and an honest days graft. Anything less leads to failure. I wish Africa grasped this Universal Truth.

  • Nicko Minaj - 2010-11-30 10:07

    How do you plan to win support away from the ANC? Surely not by whining.

      Arthur Phili - 2010-11-30 10:57

      Well where the DA has exceeded what the ANC has failed to do in terms of service delivery the ANCYL destroys. Seriously, the DA won in terms of service delivery. Surely pointing out the facts to the ANC supporters should be enough, just the stagnant HDI (google it) should be enough to convince ANC supporters to vote against the ANC. If the DA follows the ANC method of keeping support.. it would be to write 13 million people welfare cheques and to destroy the infrastructure developed by the previous government and to burn down the street names the ANC has erected since 1994 (that is basically what they've created themselves, street signs). Also it helps to hand out free T-shirts, so the DA should do that and sing about killing ethnic minorities, that works also.

  • Ederik - 2010-11-30 10:07

    Has she done ANYTHING positive for this country at all? How many houses (with toilets!) could have been built with all the money she wasted on herself?

  • noreason - 2010-11-30 10:19

    and again and again and again. There is just no stopping these great leaders of ours. Congratulations on making live for poor Africans betterm Hope you burn in hell for ever and ever and ever and all bad things come over your live from today.

  • warrenrae - 2010-11-30 10:21

    Time to start employing people that are passionate about fixing areas of concern within their portfolios and not just in it for themselves!!!!

  • franssmith100 - 2010-11-30 10:24

    and we have south africans bashing the expats for loking for a better future elsewhere? how can anybody in his right mind want to be part of a country where corruption, mismanagement, nepotism etc is the goverment of the day - Proudly South African.. how can anybody be?

  • bill - 2010-11-30 10:38

    Water affairs? Drown the cow!

  • Brandon96end - 2010-11-30 10:53

    What's the drama? Thought this is all policy?

  • dracolusus - 2010-11-30 10:56

    Government officials like this make me sick to my core. There are so many people in middle management that care and want to make a difference, but the tosspots at the top are the ones that should be caring...and not about themselves!!!

  • Alan - 2010-11-30 10:59

    This is a real shame, R9m could build quite a few RDP houses.

  • erneyb - 2010-11-30 11:01

    Wonder if the ex-minister opened a foreign bank account or two whilst on her international sojours ? It is believed that most of Zimbabwe's, to name but one, ministers and of course Uncle Bob, has foreign bank accouunts for the day when the paupau hits the fan in their countries. After all they sacrificed their "lifes for their people" and it is only appropriate to stash some dollars away for those "rainy days".

  • Perfume - 2010-11-30 11:05

    Unless she was doing and environmental testing abroad lol!!!!!!!

  • nonduplume - 2010-11-30 11:36

    I thought all overseas trips by Ministers were approved by Zuma! Does anybody really believe that things will change with the new appointment - if so please share what you are smoking with me. The new Communications Minister, Roy "my free gov house is unsuitable" P is a good example!

  • PhilaMadondo - 2010-11-30 12:00

    This is sensational reporting at it's best. Your story doesn't seem to detail the purposes of those various trips in detail. Well, if you can just dig into your archives, you will find that this particular Minister was delegated by our Govt to drive SA's represantation on the matters of Climate Change - and this inevitably meant a lot of overseas trips on top of the usual travels that she would normally make. Over and above that, this Minister was loaded with two Govt Depts: Water Affairs plus Environmental Affairs; this abnormal load (in my opinion) was most probably put on her as she had a track of being a stellar performer in Govt. So, plz check your facts and report on those facts in fully to avoid sensationalism.

      Hendrik - 2010-11-30 12:22

      Is that so, then why did she get the job?

      Arthur Phili - 2010-11-30 12:52

      Our water is poison (sewerage and heavy metals incl. radio active water).

      PB - 2010-11-30 13:17

      In The Old Days (read - NP Days) those departments used to be ONE DEPARTMENT - and it was run professionally. Now with "werkskepping" nothing gets done however many people are employed. Add to this galavanting overseas every other couple of months with her nearest and dearest in tow - how can anyone be surprised that we are facing such a colossal F.UP with clean water? Has ANY of the "knowledge" she gained from her conferences been applied to her job?

      Jan-Albert - 2010-11-30 13:49

      Why do "stellar performers" then get fired!?

  • Vintage - 2010-11-30 12:19

    Besides the money wasted what is the problem? She did not do anything while she was in the country so why not let her be out of the country

      YasButIDunno - 2010-11-30 12:35

      Correct. The decay of the water infrastructure would have been even quicker if she spent all 11 months here. I'd love to hear what her contribution was at those overseas wekshops, apart from embarrassing SA in the usual way.

  • Joy - 2010-11-30 12:36

    a complete waste of R9 million !

  • Sharief - 2010-11-30 13:13

    no wonder issues cannot be resolved cause there is nobody to report to..the gravy train continues!

      Perfume - 2010-11-30 14:22

      And it is slowing down so that others have a chance to hop on!!!!!!

  • dictator - 2010-11-30 13:40

    The strangest thing is that their own people are mostly affected.The poor living in the shacks but come next election that poor shack dweller will make his cross right in the centre of the ANC box.And why is this?70% of the ANC's voting power live in shacks and therefore are mostly unaware of what is going on.All they see is black man in control and a few RDP houses popping up now and again and they just hope that soon they will also get one and that is where it ends...

  • mm - 2010-11-30 14:01

    Why are we STILL surprised by news like this. Hasn't the current government proven OVER and OVER again that they are thieves and in it for personal gain, without really giving a hoot for their ministry, or their voters who put them in power, or the country as a whole? I just can't help wondering what it will take for their supporters to wake up and realise that they are being fooled, and taken for a ride...

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