R3.5m Geneva Trip Affects 10.2m Unemployed

The South African government spent a whopping R3.5 million on a 12-day trip to Geneva for 35 delegates in June. In this article, Dr Michael Cardo MP – the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Employment and Labour, asks how this trip will help the 10.2 million unemployed South Africans.

In the midst of an unprecedented unemployment crisis, with 10.2 million South Africans unemployed, a recent reply to a Parliamentary question revealed that the Department of Employment and Labour spent a whopping R3.5 million on a 12-day junket for 35 delegates to accompany President Cyril Ramaphosa to a conference hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, in June. There were 62 accredited delegates in total from South Africa, one of the largest delegations from any country.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to 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.

The public deserves 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.

The 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. It is an indictment on the newly appointed Minister of Employment and Labour who apparently approved the expenditure.

The public deserves to know why it was necessary for the Department to send one of the largest delegations to Geneva, which cost the South African taxpayers millions of rands. 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.

The Department would do better to channel its energy and resources to help the more than 10 million unemployed South Africans get a foot on the labour market ladder.

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