De Lille unveils round 2 of Travelgate scandal

03 September 2010 - 00:44 By NASHIRA DAVIDS
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Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille unveiled yet another Parliamentary travel shocker at a press conference yesterday.

Several members of Parliament are earning thousands of rands a month by opting to drive to their constituencies instead of flying.

This is the second time parliamentarians have come under fire for travel claims. The infamous Travelgate scandal saw Parliament paying millions of rands for bogus travel claims.

While De Lille made it clear it was not illegal for MPs to drive, she said it often cost more to drive than to fly, with more than R6-million being paid out every year.

MPs have the option to fly or drive. Parliament would, in some circumstances, pay for their vehicles to be railed to their constituencies.

After the Travelgate saga, travel rules and regulations were tightened, but De Lille said loopholes still existed.

For a 2786km return trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg, MPs would receive about R4 a kilometre depending on the petrol price.

In addition, an MP could claim R1150 for an overnight stay in Johannesburg.

Dr Salomon van Dyk of the Democratic Alliance was the top mileage claimant.

"The person we found who enjoys driving the most, Salomon van Dyk, cost the taxpayer R275512.85 driving to Pretoria and back. Van Dyk often did the return trip twice a month," said De Lille.

She said it would have cost Parliament less than half of this had he flown.

But De Lille also named and shamed one of her own party members. John Gunda claimed more than R134000 for road trips to Upington and back.

She said the matter had already been taken up with him, and that all ID claims were approved by her. "I would like to stress that in pinpointing some of the biggest money makers we have not been taking their political affiliation into consideration."

It has taken De Lille a year to obtain the information, which was finally disclosed after she brought an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act and threatened to go to court.

Parliament advised her that disclosing the information would amount to violation of MPs' rights to privacy, and would "compromise their security".

"I believe it is immoral that while ordinary South Africans and workers are told to tighten their belts during times of economic hardships, some MPs have chosen to use Parliament's secrecy regarding their travel claims to earn a few extra thousand rand every month," she said.

Magama said he suffered from claustrophobia and could not fly or use public transport. ANC MP, Lewis Nzimande who had claimed R177000, said he was not trying to make money from Parliament.

''I drive for a reason and driving is within the rules of Parliament. She should be citing this issue in the Chief Whip's Forum if she wants to put a ceiling or and end to claims,'' he said.

DA chief whip Ian Davidson announced that Van Dyk would appear before the federal legal commission of the DA.

ANC Chief Whip, Moloto Mothapo said it was difficult to comment on a document they have not yet seen.

COPE spokesman Phillip Dexter said their MP would issue a statement on the matter.


  • ID MP - John Gunda claimed a total of R134046.17 for his road trips to Upington and back.
  • DA MP - DR Salomon van Dyk claimed R275512.85 to drive to Pretoria and back.
  • ANC MP - Ebrahim Sulliman claimed about R242000 to travel to Upington.
  • ANC MP - Hargeaved Magama claimed more than R205000 for trips to Upington.
  • ANC MP - Lewis Nzimande claimed about R177000 to travel to Pietermaritzburg.
  • COPE MP - Dirk Feldman claimed more than R158000 to travel to Pretoria.
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