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DA wants full report on Ramaphosa's R3.5m labour 'jamboree' in Switzerland

Aug 01 2019 11:24
Ethan Van Diemen

In June, the Department of Employment and Labour spent R3.5m to send 35 delegates to accompany President Ramaphosa to a conference in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Now the DA wants to know, exactly, what they achieved and how whatever lessons were learned will be implemented - particularly in light of Tuesday's grim employment numbers.

The 108th session of the International Labour Conference (ILO) was convened, in Geneva, from 10-21 June 2019 under the theme: 'Building a Better Future with Decent Work'. The president attended and co-chaired the ILO's Global Commission on the Future of Work alongside Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden.

According to a flights and accommodation spreadsheet, the cost for 35 delegates came to just under R3.5m over 12 days. There were 62 accredited delegates in total from South Africa.

DA MP Michael Cardo, in a statement, said ''[t]he average cost per delegate was almost an astronomical R100 000, and if no tangible solutions to solve joblessness come from this trip to Geneva, it would have been nothing more than a luxury vacation to one of the world’s most expensive cities and a colossal waste of public money.''

Cardo said the DA would write to employment and labour minister Thulas Nxesi ''...to request a full, detailed report on whether the objectives of the trip were achieved, to be tabled in Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Labour."

He added: ''The DA and the public deserve to know the breakdown of costs for each of the delegates that attended; what they achieved and how they contributed; and how the Department will be implementing the lessons learned from the trip to help the 10.2 million unemployed South Africans." 

SA's official unemployment rate jumped to 29% in the second quarter of the year, the highest jobless rate since the start of 2008. The country's unemployment rate was 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019, meaning the rate has increased by 1.4 percentage points, Fin24 reported.   

''In the face of unprecedented levels of unemployment and economic stagnation, austerity measures are a necessity for [the] government. The jamboree to Geneva seems difficult to justify,'' said Cardo.

In response to the Parliamentary question from Cardo, Nxesi stated that ''[t]he new Minister of Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) has charged his department with the task of reviewing the current policy on the composition and costs of overseas delegations with a view to containing and cutting costs of future delegations, whilst ensuring the effective participation and engagement of South Africa in ILO fora.''

geneva  |  unemployment
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