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04 July 2011 at 11:40 - Posted by Anonymous

Taxpayers fund ANCYL secretary’s Italy trip


ANC Youth League Limpopo secretary Jacob Lebogo, along with Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, has left the country on an overseas trip - all at the taxpayers expense. Photo: Dumisani Sibeko

ANC Youth League Limpopo secretary Jacob Lebogo, along with Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, has left the country on an overseas trip - all at the taxpayers’ expense.

Lebogo is reportedly with Mathale on an eight-day mission to Italy. Mathale’s office said the purpose of the Italian trip was to attract foreign investment through the establishment of trade and economic relations.

His government delegation included 11 officials and another 15 business people, mainly allies of Mathale and Julius Malema, also formed part of the trip. Mathale’s visit has coincided with a holiday taken by close friend and ANCYL boss Malema.

The Limpopo government maintains that all the business people were paying their own way. Malema was reportedly on holiday in Milan, following his re-election at the league’s congress in Midrand.

Mathale’s trip began in Reggio Emilia city, north of Italy. He later met Marina Dondero, deputy premier of Genova province, before he proceeded to Rome.

Mathale’s spokesman, Phuti Mosomane, said the premier had not met Malema in Italy.

“Our trip to Italy was a government mission, and had nothing (to do) with anything else,” said Mosomane.

But internal sources say Lebogo had gone to Italy as a “representative” of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), a claim which both Lebogo and Tebatso Mabitsela, the provincial government spokesman, deny.

A source said Lebogo’s name appears on the internal memo, which was approved by Mathale and Rachael Molepo-Modipa, director-general of the Limpopo government.

“This has surprised everybody. We all know that Lebogo is not an NYDA official,” said the source, who asked not to be named.

NYDA provincial chairman Frans Moswane also accompanied the premier.

“The information provided by your source is incorrect and misleading,” said Mabitsela.

Initially, Mabitsela had said Lebogo formed part of the business delegation and that the state had not paid for his trip, but he later retracted the statement.

“The information I have is that he was not part of the Limpopo delegation,” he said.

A source said the trip had cost about R3.5 million, but another source said the figure was later trimmed to R1.9m.

Mabitsela dismissed the punted R3.5m as “extremely exaggerated”, but would neither deny nor confirm the R1.9m claim.

“I will exercise my right to remain silent on that one,” said Mabitsela.

Lebogo confirmed that he landed from Italy on Friday.

“It’s not a secret that I was in Italy. I never even met the premier (there),” said Lebogo.

He boasted that he had been in many overseas countries before. “Anybody who tells you that story must give you proof,” he said.

The ministerial handbook allows the president and premiers to travel with their partners during state missions, and Mathale had taken along his wife Mokgadi. - The Star

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