Gauteng legislature speaker Ntombi Mekgwe jets off on R759k trip to New York
Gauteng legislature speaker Ntombi Mekgwe is embarking on a R759,000 overseas trip to attend the 67th Commission on the Status of Women hosted by the UN in New York.
Mekgwe, a protocol officer and the legislature's administrative operations director, departed on Saturday night and will spend a week in the US.
TimesLIVE has seen an internal memo by the speaker's office to the secretary of the legislature Peter Skosana requesting approval for funds to cover the costs of flights, accommodation, cellphone and data allowances, travel insurance and per diem expenses.
The breakdown of the associated costs includes R420,000 on flights, R96,000 for accommodation for the two officials and an additional R90,000 — or R15,000 per night — for Mekgwe's stay.
They requested R9,450 (R450 each per day) for cellphone expenses and R120,000 as a combined per diem allowance.
The memo states the trip is “unfunded and unplanned in the current financial year's activities”.
Mekgwe had an upcoming international trip in March that would have set the public purse back R1.1m but it was cancelled and the memo said this should be redirected to fund the trip to New York.
“Any unspent funds by the end of March 2023 will be forfeited, whereas the implementation of this new priority will benefit the programmes of the legislature.”
The benefits of the trip for the legislature, according to the memo, include:
- further advocating and encouraging parliamentarians of all genders to include a gender perspective in all aspects of their role — such as legislation, oversight and representation; and
- to elevate and align the legislature's signature programmes such as transversal mainstreaming: multiparty women’s caucus and the Commonwealth women parliamentarians.
Skosana told TimesLIVE Mekgwe was nominated to moderate a key session under the theme: harnessing technology and innovation to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls at the conference.
“The moderator role of the speaker at this session is crucial for the elevation of the work of the Gauteng legislature at the epicentre of legislative reforms and advocacy for women and children.”
He said the trip was approved as per the current financial year budget.
“All local and international trips undertaken by the members and staff of the legislature to benchmark, share and learn experiences, when assessing level of development of [the legislature] in relation to its constitutional mandates, innovation and identification of weaknesses and strengths of how [it] executes its mandates, one could safely say that the benefits outweigh costs,” added Skosana.
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