Minister Patricia de Lille's trips abroad cost taxpayers R2.4-million
Minister Patricia de Lille's trips abroad cost taxpayers R2.4-million. Photo: iStockPhoto

Patricia de Lille, South Africa’s new Minister of Tourism, allegedly spent R2.4-million in taxpayer money on international trips between September 2019 and September 2022 in her previous role as Minister of Public Works.

Patricia de Lille
Photo: FB/ Patricia de Lille

According to the DA: “During this three-year period, President Cyril Ramaphosa personally approved eight luxurious overseas trips for De Lille in terms of the Ministerial Handbook. Information obtained by the DA through a parliamentary question shows that the flights, luxury accommodation and subsistence costs of these trips amounted to R2 415 994.”

Dr Leon Schreiber – DA Shadow Minister for Public Service – said in a statement on Monday:

“Bereft of a single accomplishment in her previous portfolio and having presided over the Beitbridge washing line fiasco and the burning down of our Parliament, De Lille can at least point to her knack for taxpayer-funded global travel in her new position as Minister of Tourism. While South Africans were stuck in the darkness of worsening load-shedding engineered by De Lille and her ANC colleagues over the past three years, she was enjoying the bright lights of Dubai, the USA (twice), the UK (twice), Singapore, as well as Cuba and Egypt.”

Dr Schreiber says that in a trip to the UK in September, her flight tickets cost taxpayers R326,000 and her accommodation – for five nights in a luxury hotel – cost them an extra R140,000.”

“De Lille blew more on luxurious overseas travel in these five days than most South Africans will earn in five years,” says Dr Schreiber.

Six nights in Cuba would make a good movie title for the Hollywood lifestyle that ANC rockstar Patricia De Lille’s enjoys. The only problem is that her hotel accommodation during six tropical Havana nights in April last year cost the people of South Africa over R122 000, with business class flights adding another R236 000 to the bill,” he alleges.

The millions spent by taxpayers on De Lille’s “jet-setting” is made possible by chapter six of the Ministerial Handbook, “a document for which there appears to exist no legal basis whatsoever even though it costs South Africans billions of Rands every year”, says the DA.

The Handbook stipulates that the President approves, in writing, all international travel for Ministers and Deputy Ministers. “The Handbook entitles rockstar Ministers and Deputy Ministers to travel overseas in business class and to take along an entourage that can include their spouse, bodyguards and support staff – with every cent footed by the people of South Africa,” says Dr Schreiber.

“But it doesn’t end there: the Handbook also grants ANC rockstars access to VIP lounges, directs them to stay in “hotels which suit the status of Members [of the executive] (5 star graded hotel or equivalent of a South African 5 star graded hotel),” and grants them a generous subsistence allowance.”

The DA has laid a complaint with the Public Protector; and is introducing the Cut Cabinet Perks Bill in Parliament to provide for full transparency and parliamentary oversight over “this obscene waste of money”.

Dr Schreiber says: “The DA has already exposed that ANC rockstar Ministers and Deputy Ministers live in mansions valued at R1 billion, that they employ support staff costing R387 million per year, and that De Lille spent R2.6 million to install generators at their mansions. In the next phase of our campaign to expose and abolish this wastage, the DA will soon – for the very first time in our democratic history – reveal the total amount of exactly how much the Ministerial Handbook robs from South Africans every year to fund the lifestyles of ANC cadres like Patricia de Lille.”