The Democratic Alliance has written to the Public Protector to investigate 23 trips taken by SAA chairwoman Dudu Myeni, where she racked up a bill of R680,000 on business class travel and luxury 5-star hotels.
The trips were booked and paid for by the Mhlathuze Water Board – of which Myeni is also chairperson – and were uncovered by the City Press in a report out on Sunday (5 February).
According to the report, R678,761 was spent on business-class travel, 5-star hotels, room service and limousine rides at Myeni’s destinations, which included Sweden, London, Germany, and other African nations.
Only five of the trips had accompanying travel request forms, showing the reason behind the trips. The purpose of some trips were to attend workshops and conferences, but most trips had no reason highlighted, the paper reported.
This is just the latest report highlighting Myeni’s abuse of public funds: in late January 2017, the City Press reported on several abuses totalling millions in unregulated and wasteful spending by the chair.
The DA said that the fact this “extravagant expenditure” was allowed even though finance minister Pravin Gordhan had implemented cost-cutting measures to limit air travel, car hire, accommodation for conferences, was “flagrant abuse of public funds”.
Further, the DA said that Myeni should not even be allowed to be in the position to abuse funds in this manner at all.
“On 28 November 2016, the Pietermaritzburg High Court found that the extension of her term as Chairperson of the Mhlathuze Water Authority was unlawful and that it be set aside,” the party said.
“The Mhlathuze Water Authority’s 2014/15 and 2015/16 annual reports indicate that Myeni was paid R538,000 in 2015 with an additional R508,000 in 2016. Since a court has ruled that her appointment from February 2015 to date was unlawful, Myeni should pay back the full R1,046,000.”
“It is high time that Myeni be made to account for her flagrant abuse of the public purse. A public protector investigation is the appropriate means to ensuring this.”