MPLs dodge medicals

2013-05-28 00:00

A NUMBER of KZN MPLs have allegedly declined to undergo medical examinations required to show that they qualify to be provided with chauffeurs, whose salaries are paid by the legislature.

The legislature introduced a new policy earlier this year requiring its MPLs to submit applications to justify the use of a driver. These must be backed up by medical reports that are then scrutinised by a specialist chosen by the institution.

In a statement yesterday, the DA’s Radley Keys said 15 out of the 22 MPLs using drivers had declined to undergo the examinations.

Keys said it was telling that so many MPLs declined to apply and undergo the necessary medical examination and certification required.

“The battle against drivers for those MPLs who do not require such a service has been fought by the DA since the inception of this benefit for MPLs. The DA has consistently argued this was an abuse of power by the ruling party,” he said.

According to the statement, the 22 chauffeurs were each paid a salary of R15 000 per month by the legislature.

This translated to the KZN legislature coughing up R330 000 per month and over R4 million a year.

However, there had been claims that the policy was being abused by some members who were using their relatives as drivers, a move that prompted the new policy introduced earlier this year.

Legislature chief whip Lizzy Shabala told The Witness yesterday that not more than 12 MPLs from the ANC and IFP had applied to be allocated drivers on medical grounds, and two others were asked to furnish more documentation.

In the past, the legislature had provided chauffeurs for sickly, disabled or elderly legislators and those with amadlozi (the ancestral calling to be traditional healers).

Shabalala said there had been a grey area when the drivers were initially appointed, because there was no policy in place at the time.

She said the new policy no longer covered those who have amadlozi after research was conducted by the administration and advice given to the whips’ forum.

“We understand it from a cultural perspective, but it is not within the constraints of the law,” said Shabalala.

Lucky Gabela of the Congress of the People said the two who did not submit applications with all the necessary documents had been given the opportunity to re-submit their papers.

“We did not turn down applications, but gave them an opportunity to submit the documents,” he said.

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