In what seems to be the ‘gaffe of the year’, South Africa’s Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams emphatically denied ever being in Switzerland, but surprisingly, she has been to Geneva.
Well, as it is public knowledge, Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland.
In an interview with eNCA on Wednesday, Ndabeni-Abrahams was not pleased when questioned over spending taxpayers’ money to commemorate her wedding anniversary with her husband Thato Abrahams in Switzerland. She said the claims are outrageous.
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“What do you think?” she sneered when asked if she had visited Switzerland.
“I have said on this matter that I have never been to Switzerland, my husband has never been to Switzerland. We went to Geneva and New York to do the work we needed to do,” she said.
She seems to believe the media is out to get her with a smear campaign.
However, she allegedly took a trip in September 2019 and enjoyed an extravagant shopping spree in France with her husband while being driven by a private chauffeur in a luxury vehicle.
The trip nonetheless was not authorized in any official capacity as President Cyril Ramaphosa was clueless about it.
According to internal government documents, the couple did in fact attend conferences in New York and Geneva.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has moved for the minister to be relieved of her duties, but she strongly denies the allegations since they started making waves in January.
“It is also malicious to claim that Mr Abrahams travelled to France on a ‘shopping spree’ utilising public funds as his passport, which is available for scrutiny, clearly reveals that he was in Geneva at all times during this trip.
“A baseless allegation is also made that Mr Abrahams used a ‘chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz S600 that was allocated to the minister’ for the said ‘shopping spree’. This is devoid of all truth because it did not happen,” she said in a statement.
People took to Twitter to make mockery of Ndabeni-Abrahams’ apparent blunder.
In a new statement, the minister of communications has retracted her “Geneva” statement, saying she and her husband had been to France instead.
“Earlier this morning, I had an interview on the South African Morning with Xoli Mngambi on eNCA.
“A question was asked relating to a September 2019 trip to Geneva, Switzerland. When the question was raised, I erroneously referred to Switzerland instead of France, responding to the effect that my husband and I had not been to Switzerland, but Geneva.
“I profusely apologise for this error as I meant to say that we had not been to France in that particular instance, but in Geneva where Mr Abrahams had accompanied me on an official trip in line with the Ministerial Handbook.
“This is informed by previous misleading media reports that had indicated that during this trip, Mr Abrahams traveled to France.”