Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is again under scrutiny after it was revealed that her department spent in excess of R500,000 on a trip to the United States at the end of June.
Business Day reported that in a written reply to a question in Parliament on Friday, Dlamini said that her department forked out R547,413 for a five-person delegation led by the minister to attend the annual Rainbow Push Coalition conference, in Chicago.
The minister said in her reply that her delegation was booked into the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, the location of the five-day conference.
In the 2014/2015 financial year Dlamini and her support staff spent R1.6 million on four separate trips to New York, with the overall overseas bill amounting to R12 million.
Earlier this month, the Department of Social Development’s 2015/16 annual report revealed that travel and subsistence expenses for the year was 12% higher at R121.5 million, against a budget of R98.6 million, in the previous financial year.
Dlamini caused a stir in the middle of the year when it was alleged that she stayed at the luxurious Oyster Box in Umhlanga at a cost of R11,000 per night. The Democratic Alliance alleged that Dlamini had booked herself into the hotel on more than one occasion.
And in May, the minister stated that social grant beneficiaries should be able to live on R753 per month to buy “adequate food as well as additional non-food items”.