Originally: DA slams Haitian ‘holiday’



Cape Town – The “extravagance” related to President Thabo Mbeki’s visit to Haiti on Thursday to attend that country’s bicentennial celebrations is unnecessary, the Democratic Alliance said on Wednesday.

The news that the SAS Drakensberg with its 250 crew members is anchored off Haiti with a police helicopter, 51 policemen and 18 NIS agents aboard, lends weight to the DA view that the president was indulging in unnecessary extravagance at the expense of the South African taxpayer, DA acting leader Douglas Gibson said in a statement.

‘Glorified holiday’

“Crime victims in this country can only dream of 51 policemen and a police helicopter. Instead of fulfilling their task of safeguarding the public the police officers are on some sort of glorified holiday cum diplomatic excursion with the president and members of his Cabinet.

“Apart from the leaders of some small Caribbean states President Mbeki is the only leader spending his time and his taxpayers’ money on attending the celebration on Haiti.

“He has underscored how significant these celebrations are, in that they mark the two hundredth anniversary of Haitian freedom.

“If the occasion is so significant, why has no one else from Africa or anyone of significance from elsewhere in the world gone to Haiti?”

Stories of human rights abuses and of grossly undemocratic practices led one to ask what Mbeki was doing there at this time. Haiti was the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Its revolution had not delivered much to its people.

“To us there is very little to celebrate,” Gibson said.