Malusi and Norma Gigaba. Picture: INSTAGRAM
Malusi and Norma Gigaba. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s wife travelled business class to the US with her husband at the state’s expense, a reply by the minister to a parliamentary question has revealed.

Norma Gigaba flew with the nine-person Treasury team which went to the US to attend the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in April, and thereafter held investor meetings in New York and Boston.

Ministers and their spouses are entitled to first-class travel for official purposes at the expense of the department concerned.

Replying in writing to a question by DA finance spokesperson, David Maynier, Gigaba said the total cost of the international investor roadshow was R978,463 (excluding the cost of flights for nearly all the team), of which R491,554 was for hotel accommodation at hotels such as the International Barclay, Boston Harbor Hotel, the Ritz-Carlton and the Grand Hyatt.

She also qualified for a two-day daily allowance amounting to R3,831.

Commenting on the reply, Maynier said: "I’m not sure whether it is a breach of cost-containment measures or of ministerial handbook guidelines, but it’s simply wrong for taxpayers to be expected to cough up for Norma Gigaba’s shopping trip to the US.

"The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, cannot balance the books and should be setting an example when it comes to belt-tightening. However, that does not seem to have been the case when it came to the recent investor roadshow in the US which would have cost more than R1m had the total cost of the flights been disclosed."

Gigaba's spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete responded, saying that the minister had been transparent about his wife travelling with him and that this was well within the law. Other ministers and Gigaba' s predecessors had done likewise and it was a common practice.

Tshwete said the minister travelled a lot and being accompanied by his wife was one way for him to be with his family. Tshwete criticised the selective reporting on the matter which "painted the minister in a negative light which was regrettable given the serious issues facing the country".

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