Ques­tions over fresh Trav­el­gate claims

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CHRIS­TELLE TERREBLANCHE

PAR­LIA­MENT has ques­tioned the ba­sis on which ID leader Pa­tri­cia de Lille has claimed that some MPs had been pock­et­ing thou­sands by abus­ing their travel claims.

De Lille this week an­nounced that she would not hes­i­tate to take le­gal action to ob­tain all MPs’ travel records if an Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion ap­pli­ca­tion she has al­ready made does not suc­ceed.

She first raised alarm about a pos­si­ble Trav­el­gate II in Novem­ber last year, say­ing a cul­prit in her own party has alerted her to the fact that MPs may be skim­ming off thou­sands by us­ing their own cars to drive be­tween Par­lia­ment and their homes when flights would be much cheaper. Par­lia­ment has re­fused to pro­vide a break­down of the travel de­tails of MPs, say­ing this could pose a se­cu­rity risk.

Speaker Max Sisulu ad­vised De Lille last year to rather use the Pro­mo­tion of Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act – which would give MPs a say in whether their per­sonal in­for ma­tion is re­vealed – or to raise the mat­ter in Par­lia­ment’s Rules Com­mit­tee. She has now fol­lowed both routes, but fears it may not yield re­sults.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, Par­lia­ment’s Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ser­vices, how­ever, said De Lille’s com­par­i­son be­tween the costs of mo­tor ve­hi­cle jour­neys with air travel jour­neys “is not en­tirely an ac­cu­rate com­par­i­son be­cause even if MPs travel by air, Par­lia­ment pays the costs of their trans­port to and from air­ports”.

De Lille is stick­ing to her guns that MPs could pocket thou­sand of rands per trip if they take to the road rather than the air. Par­lia­men­tary rules al­lows MPs 86 plane tick­ets each year, but they get re­im­bursed in cash if they travel by road at AA rates of R3.69 a km.

De Lille said her cal­cu­la­tions showed a 2 786km re­turn road trip from Cape Town to Joburg, for ex­am­ple, could re­sult in a claim of R10 280.

De Lille said yes­ter­day that Par­lia­ment’s re­sponse missed the point she was try­ing to make – that MPs have over­sight over min­is­ters, who are obliged to re­veal their travel ex­penses, but MPs do not set an ex­am­ple.

“It is about pro­tect­ing the in­tegrity of Par­lia­ment and to pre­vent an­other Trav­el­gate”, De Lille said.

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