As President Jacob Zuma prepares to travel to Ethiopia to attend the 28th assembly of heads of state and government of the African Union, the storm over Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s trip to Addis Ababa earlier this week is gaining momentum.
The Democratic Alliance will be submitting parliamentary questions to Dlamini, who is also the ANC Women’s League president, to ascertain who footed the bill for her trip to Addis Ababa.
“The minister’s spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, has claimed that she was in Addis Ababa on state business yet media reports, and even photographs emerging from the visit, indicate that she has been engaged in her capacity as league president,” said DA spokesperson on social development Bridget Masango.
“It is highly likely that public money was used to pay for what was principally a party trip abroad.”
Masango said the DA would demand to know who paid for these flights.
“If the department did foot the bill, we will use all mechanisms available to us to ensure that every cent is paid back to the department. This is money that should be used to help the vulnerable members of our society, and not for the sponsoring of the minister’s party business.”
Meanwhile, the presidency confirmed that at least seven officials would accompany Zuma – including Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of State Security David Mahlobo; Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe; Minister of Public Service and Administration Ngoako Ramatlhodi; Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo, and Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela.
The summit is set to conclude with the assembly of heads of state on Monday and Tuesday, when the elections for the new AU Commission chair will be finalised.
The assembly will consider and deliberate on:
» A report to be presented by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, on institutional reforms of the AU aimed at enhancing the continental body’s governance systems;
» The state of peace and security on the continent;
» The African Peer Review Mechanism;
» Climate Change;
» The 2016 annual report of the AU Commission, which is expected to focus on the implementation and domestication of Agenda 2063, economic integration, the continental passport as well as peace support and peace-keeping missions; and
» The application by Morocco to become the AU’s 55th member state.
The term of office of incumbent Commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, came to an end in June 2016 and was extended till this month to enable the AU to elect her successor.
In her last speech at the opening of the AU executive council of ministers’ meeting on Wednesday, Dlamini-Zuma said Africans should “revive and strengthen the spirit of pan-Africanism, unity and solidarity” if it wanted to achieve the goals set out in its 50-year plan, Agenda 2063.
“We seem to be moving towards a multi-polar world as the US under the new administration threatens the consensus on climate change, attack hard-won women’s rights and move towards protectionism,” she said.
“Africa’s only protection in these treacherous global waters is to honour the decision to commence its own Continental Free Trade Area in 2017.”
On Tuesday, Dlamini attended a dinner to conclude the AU gender summit. The dinner was used to say farewell to Dlamini-Zuma and her attendance followed the league’s declaration of support earlier this month for Dlamini-Zuma to succeed Zuma as ANC president in December.