In a move that has sparked outrage and criticism, Gauteng Legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe has jetted off on a R759,000 trip to New York.

According to reports, Mekgwe is leading a delegation of six officials from the Gauteng Legislature to attend a conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The conference, which focuses on sustainable development and environmental protection, runs from March 6 to March 10.

The cost of the trip has been widely criticized, with many questioning the need for such an expensive delegation to attend the conference. The delegation’s travel costs alone amount to R530,000, with an additional R229,000 being spent on accommodation and other expenses.

DA ccritisices Ntombi Mekgwe’s R759k trip

The breakdown of the associated costs includes R420,000 on flights, R96,000 for accommodation for the two officials and an additional R90,000 - or R15,000 per night - for Ntombi Mekgwe's stay. File photo.
Image: Antonio Muchave
Image: Antonio Muchave

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been particularly vocal in its criticism of the trip, with DA Gauteng spokesperson Jack Bloom calling it a “wasteful and unnecessary junket”. Bloom argued that the conference could have been attended by a smaller delegation at a fraction of the cost.

Others have pointed out that the trip comes at a time when the Gauteng Legislature is facing financial constraints, with budget cuts impacting various services and programs.

Mekgwe has defended the trip, saying that it is an important opportunity to engage with other global leaders on issues related to sustainable development and environmental protection. She also pointed out that the trip had been approved by the Gauteng Legislature’s presiding officers.

Despite the criticism, the delegation is set to attend the conference and participate in various sessions and meetings over the next few days. Whether the trip will prove to be a valuable investment or a needless expense remains to be seen