Johannesburg - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini spent R764 742 between June 2009 and August last year, the DA said on Sunday. Democratic Alliance social development spokesperson Mike Waters said in a statement that Dlamini spent 145 nights in luxury hotels.
However, the minister's spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said the expenditure was a necessary part of her job.
"The very nature of the minister's work is working with the poor, who are in very rural areas of the country which require her to be constantly out of the office together with her staff."
Waters said the information was recently received in response to a Promotion of Access to Information Act application submitted more than a year ago.
"The detailed invoices received by the DA shows that Minister Dlamini has a preference for five and six star establishments such as the Radisson Blu and One and Only Hotels in Cape Town, the Hilton in Durban and Intercontinental Sandton Towers Hotel."
Waters said he would submit parliamentary questions asking in which city Dlamini's official residence was located.
"If the minister has an official residence in the cities where she spent so much time in luxury hotels, I will ask the Public Protector to investigate Minister Dlamini for wasteful expenditure..."
Oliphant responded: "It is mischievous of the DA to call the Minister's stay at the hotels 'a spending spree'".
The department's policy provided for staff members to stay at four star hotels, while the minister was entitled to a five star hotel stay.
"It would be best if the DA compared the minister's work with the work she does outside the office and Parliament trying to reach the poorest of the poor of this country," she said.
She noted that the DA had not asked what Dlamini was doing on the dates she was staying in the hotels.
Dlamini did more Public Participation Programmes (PPP) than any other present Cabinet minister, said Oliphant.
While she was required to do 10 PPPs each year, Dlamini did more than five times that, she said.
This was in addition to her work on international organisations such as the United Nations' International Advisory Group on Aids, which she co-chairs.
"... The DA has deliberately chosen to trivialise this sterling effort aimed at alleviating the plight of our people simply because it chooses expediency of cheap political point-scoring," Oliphant said.