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Questions over DPM's wife's trip

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MBABANE – Government has spent over E90 000 on a first-class ticket to America for a security officer who went to that country as a bodyguard to the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Themba Masuku’s wife.

Dimpho Masuku is in that country on a private visit but is accompanying her husband who is on official business.

She left the country for the United States on Monday to join her husband and his delegation, which is attending a three-day conference in the United State of America.

The DPM left the country on the same day for New York, America where he represented Swaziland at the United Nation’s Fifth Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The conference, which sought to review good practices and challenges in the implementation of the convention, was held from Wednesday to Friday.

It seeks to help build a more inclusive, accessible and supportive international framework to promote the development of human rights of all persons with disabilities

The convention was themed, ‘Making the CRPD count for women and children.’

His wife, however, formed part the delegation but government has said she is on a private visit,"

The Times SUNDAY gathered that this trip was funded by government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Government, it has been alleged, bought a first class ticket amounting to over E94 000 for the DPM and for each member of his delegation.

Percy Simelane, government spokesperson, says the DPM’s delegation comprises of security personnel.

He said travelling costs for the DPM and the security detail were paid for by government.

"We have no paperwork for any other person travelling with the DPM save for information that his spouse travelled privately," he said on Wednesday.

Simelane confirmed that Dimpho was part of the DPM’s delegation but stressed that she was on a private visit.

Months ago, government issued a circular suspending payment for politicians’ spouses for overseas trips. They are only allowed one trip per year at government’s expense.

The circular was issued by the PM Sibusiso Dlamini in respect of government’s dry coffers.

This publication established that this is the second trip this year where Dimpho accompanied the DPM overseas for official business.

The last trip was in May 2012.

There are allegations that part of the money used for the trip was sourced from government coffers. This has been disputed by government.

Interviewed last Saturday, the DPM said his trip to America was funded by the UNDP.

"Yes, I am leaving for America and I will be in that country for five days. The trip has been funded by UNDP," he said.

This publication has gathered that a week ago, government issued a memorandum informing ministries about the DPM’s trip to America and his wife.

In the memorandum, which was issued four days before the trip, it was stated that Masuku would be accompanied by two security officers (male and a female) where one would be assigned to provide security for the DPM and the other, his wife.

A senior government employee who did not want his name published because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of government, said even if government claimed not to have paid for Dimpho’s trip, it was strange that it paid for the security officer assigned to guard her while in America.

"It remains a mystery when government would facilitate payment for a security officer when that particular spouse is on a private visit. Should we regard that trip private when security is paid for by government," asked the government official.

Meanwhile, UNDP’s Jabu Matsebula said his organisation did not have information on the composition of DPM’s delegation.

"We have no information of the composition of the DPM’s delegation. However the DPM’s Office may be able to help you," he said.

"As part of our Annual Work Plan, UNDP provided support to the DPM whose office is responsible for people living with disabilities, to participate in this key global meeting. We are confident that the outcome of the conference will enrich and strengthen the capacity of the Government of Swaziland to enhance inclusive participation of people with disabilities in the Kingdom of Swaziland development processes. We are also confident that the outcome of the conference will support government to promote access for people with disabilities to human rights. The UNDP support covered the cost of air travel and daily subsistence of the DPM during the course of the conference," he said.


COMMENTS:

-  Did government pay for Mrs Masuku's ticket as well? If not, what's the problem? First of all she has a right to travel privately at her own expense. She is not a prisoner just because she is married to the DPM. She is free to travel anywhere she wants and if security tags along well then that's not her issue, and it's part of the privileges of being a DPM's wife. Government should not provide security if there is no money and let her go without and stop making an issue out of this.
September 16, 2012, 17:05 pm, nomthee

- if the dpm trip was paid for by undp,why did government pay for his trip
September 16, 2012, 17:05 pm, mabelnkosi (mabelenkosi@gmail.com)

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