CAPE TOWN – Opposition parties in the city council are crying foul over recent overseas travel undertaken by Mayor Patricia De Lille.
Recently the mayor has gone on three overseas trips, spending R1 million of ratepayers’ money.
The African National Congress (ANC) and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) say the trips should be discussed and approved by council first to determine whether the expenditure is justified.
In five weeks between May and June, De Lille travelled to Italy, Belgium and the US.
The most expensive of these trips to the US via Amsterdam cost over R600,000, for De Lille and Mayco member Brett Herron to travel business class, and another official to travel economy.
The city’s travel policy allows for the mayor, deputy mayor and mayoral committee members to travel business class for overseas travel.
But the ACDP’s Demi Dudley says no feedback is provided to the council about these trips.
A report, containing the events and conferences attended as well as costs, was tabled for noting only in the council this week and not open to debate.
“When you are spending the kind of money that the mayor is, and you are not held accountable, then we start getting concerned,” says Dudley.
ANC chief whip Thandi Manikivana says the expenditure can’t be justified.
“We believe the money can be spent in poor areas where the services are needed.”
The mayor’s spokesperson Zara Nicholson says the actual cost to the council of the US trip will amount to R495,000 because the city will be reimbursed for the flight costs by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Nicholson says the mayor’s international business trips are part of efforts to promote trade and investment.
During the US trip, a tourism promotion agreement was signed with New York Tourism and De Lille used the opportunity to lobby for a direct flight between Cape Town and the US.
But opposition parties say they want to exercise greater oversight over the mayor’s travel.
They want to know about the trips before they happen and to receive full reports on the benefits to the city.
PHOTO: Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille. Picture: Cindy Archillies/EWN.