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Ndabeni-Abrahams says claims of her abusing taxpayers’ money devoid of truth

The ‘Sunday Independent’ reported at the weekend that Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly went on an official trip to the United States and Europe with her husband.

Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Monday rejected a media report claiming that taxpayers’ money was used to fund her wedding anniversary celebrations overseas last year.

The _Sunday Independent _ reported at the weekend that Ndabeni-Abrahams allegedly went on an official trip to the United States and Europe with her husband.

The paper claimed that the minister’s spouse used a chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz that was allocated to her to travel from Switzerland to France for a shopping spree. The minister was also accused of outsourcing departmental functions to her husband by allowing him to interview candidates for positions on the various boards for which she had political oversight.

In a statement, Ndabeni-Abrahams said the allegations were malicious and unfounded.

“Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams refutes the unfounded allegations made against her and her husband, Mr Thato Abrahams, pointing to the abuse of power, state resources and interfering with the public broadcaster's editorial independence. This is a malicious smear campaign that must be treated with all the contempt that it deserves,” the minister’s spokesperson Nthabeleng Mokitimi-Dlamini said in the statement.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said she had never flouted any rules when she travelled with her husband, referring to the Ministerial Handbook, which allowed for spouses to accompany members of the executive on a maximum of two official trips a year.

“Further, the handbook allows for spouses to accompany members of the executive on two official international trips per year. Therefore, both policy and process were not flouted in Mr Abrahams accompanying the minister to Geneva and New York,” the statement read.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said the fact that her trip coincided with their anniversary was of no consequence as public funds were not used or misused for the celebration.

The minister said claims that her husband travelled to France for a shopping spree in a car allocated to her is a lie, adding that she could prove he never visited France.

“That the trip coincided with the minister's anniversary is of no consequence as public funds were not used and/or misused for this purpose. 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,” the statement said.

Ndabeni-Abrahams said there was clearly a smear campaign against her and welcomed calls by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for the matter to be investigated.

“Further, Mr Abrahams has never interfered with and in the affairs of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, as alleged in the article. This and other spurious claims made in the article, including the opportunistic EFF statement, are disingenuous and misleading.”

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