Zille's Asian trip will cost you R1.1million

07 May 2017 - 02:03
By JAN-JAN JOUBERT
Helen Zille's sentiments highlight how central the erasure of black and non-European modernities is to settler colonial thought.
Image: Trevor Samson/© Business Day Helen Zille's sentiments highlight how central the erasure of black and non-European modernities is to settler colonial thought.

Helen Zille's recent trip to Asia cost taxpayers more than R1.1-million.

Accompanied by her husband, Johann Maree, and three officials from her department, Zille travelled to Singapore and Japan.

In all, R636,159 was spent on "travel, accommodation and other costs", and R500,000 was paid to Wesgro, which organised seminars during the trip.

Wesgro is a provincial government entity tasked with encouraging economic growth and investment in the Western Cape, and does not fall under Zille.

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During question time in the Western Cape legislature this week, ANC provincial chief whip Pierre Uys asked Zille about the trip, during which she tweeted about the supposedly positive aspects of colonialism, which in turn led to a DA disciplinary inquiry.

According to Die Burger, Zille told Uys the immediate benefits of the trip may well not be apparent, but it aimed to foster commercial, trade and tourism relations.

Yesterday, Zille told the Sunday Times she realised the amount spent was hefty.

"But it means an average of R127,000 per person, all expenses included, which is within a reasonable ballpark for this kind of trip."

She said two officials stayed for two weeks and she stayed for nine days with her husband and Dr Laurine Platzky, deputy director-general for strategic programmes in the department of the premier.

"Please bear in mind the exchange rate," said Zille. "I did not take a personal secretary in order to save costs. We did an enormous amount of work, from the moment the plane landed until the moment it left.

"My husband, who did research, came with me for the first time in eight years on an official government trip. According to the handbook he may come on every trip."

Uys said the ANC would ask the auditor-general to investigate . " We need to be clear on what the trip entailed, what it achieved and whether it was legal for the department of the premier to make that payment to Wesgro in that way," said Uys.