Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has explained her hilarious gaffe that left South Africans on social media in stitches earlier on Wednesday.
During an interview with eNCA on Wednesday morning, Ndabeni-Abrahams denied allegations that she had flown her husband Thato Abrahams to Switzerland at taxpayers’ expense to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
However, she raised eyebrows when she said, “I’ve never been to Switzerland. My husband has never been to Switzerland. We went to Geneva and New York to do the work that I’m expected to do.”
‘I meant to say France, not Switzerland’
A number of Twitter users have shared a video of the moment the Minister made the gaffe, leaving many bemused.
Part of those allegations, which the Sunday Independent reported on in January, were that when they were in Switzerland, Thato Abrahams was chauffeur-driven to France to go shopping.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Ndabeni-Abrahams said she “erroneously referred to Switzerland instead of France” while replying to Mngambi during the interview.
She added, “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.”
‘I made an error’
Writing on Twitter, the Minister also said, “Hay seriously you didn’t see that I made an error?”
Ndabeni-Abrahams vehemently denied the allegations when they first emerged, saying they amounted to a “malicious smear campaign.”
“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,” she said in a statement at the time.
She also welcomed the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) call for an investigation and urged anyone with evidence of impropriety on her part to present it to the relevant authorities.
Ndabeni-Abrahams added, “The Minister is fully aware of the political malice at play, which has given shape to a well-orchestrated and sinister campaign to discredit her and deter her from fulfilling the department’s mandate, which includes sector transformation.”
She lamented that the report had caused her reputational damage and urged the media to “avoid being conduits for gossip and character assassination.”