Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The deputy president’s controversial trip

The Presidency has confirmed that Thuthukile Mazibuko-Skweyiya, the wife of Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, accompanied Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on her trip to the United Arab Emirates. This is the first time since the start of the furore over the trip in an Air Force VIP jet that any official mention has been made of Mazibuko-Skweyiya’s presence on the plane. Presidential spokesperson Murphy Morobe told journalists at the Union Buildings in Pretoria the deputy-president had considered Mazibuko-Skweyiya the right person to take along, as she was involved in skills development work in the UAE.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance joined the Freedom Front Plus in demanding that Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana probes the trip. The DA’s Gareth Morgan says Mushwana should investigate as a matter of urgency whether the Deputy President is guilty of violating the Executive Members Act. Cosatu has also repeated its call for a new rule-book to be drafted to regulate the use of public facilities by government ministers. Spokesperson Patrick Craven says there can be no justification for anyone to have free holidays at taxpayers' expense, especially not with millions of South Africans living in poverty.

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