Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: REUTERS
Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: REUTERS

A senior aide of former human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu — who was moved in the recent cabinet reshuffle to become minister of tourism — claimed more than R1.76m on travel and accommodation since May 2019.

This was revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question by DA human settlements spokesperson Emma Louise Powell.

Powell said in a statement that the claims by Mphumzi Mdekazi for travel and accommodation were in addition to the “already hyperinflated” monthly salary of R142,920 he received as an advisory committee member for 15 days’ work a month.

“Frequently accused of wielding inappropriate influence within both big-budget departments, Mphumzi Mdekazi is widely rumoured to be the driving force behind Sisulu’s presidential ambitions,” Powell said.

“It is further long alleged that Mdekazi personally handpicked members of Sisulu’s notorious ‘national rapid response task team’ on the basis of their ability to garner political support for Sisulu ahead of the ANC’s 2022 elective conference.”

Powell claimed that Sisulu had been able to bypass ministerial handbook staff limits to stack her political deck via the establishment of various advisory committees and task teams over which she then had direct control by invoking the Water Services Act.

“Specialists serving alongside Mdekazi on this particular Water Services Act advisory committee included the likes of a Kenyan documentary filmmaker, who served as the department’s camera man, as well as a radio presenter and former Kaizer Chiefs PR [public relations] officer,” Powell said.

“That one single committee member was permitted to rack up a taxpayer-funded travel and accommodation bill of R1,763,878 is simply inconceivable in the face of the devastating financial state of our nation. It furthermore makes a mockery of 13-million South Africans who continue to live in informality, many still without access to basic water and sanitation services.”

Powell said the DA would make applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to access all invoices submitted to the department of water and sanitation by all members of the advisory committee. She also called on newly appointed water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu to immediately disband the advisory committee and initiate a formal investigation into Mdekazi’s “fat-cat” travel bill.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za

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