Parliament to write off Travelgate losses
Cape Town - Parliament has decided to write off the R12m in outstanding debt owed to it by MPs who were implicated in the Travelgate scandal.
A letter from National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu to Democratic Alliance MP Ian Davidson also said that no further action would be taken against politicians implicated as the records of the travel agency used, Bathong Travel, were destroyed.
"As the debt was not recoverable and still on Parliament's books, it resulted in an audit query. Taking into consideration both these factors (the query and the fact that there were no records), the administration advised the presiding officers to write off the debts. In the light of this it is not possible to recover monies from members," Sisulu's letter said.
Only six out of 79 of the MPs implicated in the scandal have been criminally prosecuted and, according to Sisulu, the remaining 73 would not be charged.
"I trust that this settles the matter", concluded Sisulu in his letter.
DA to request investigation
However, Davidson said it did not and that if the matter were left as it were, then it would reinforce the perception that public-office bearers could steal from the people of SA with impunity.
"We cannot endorse a mass bail-out of Members of Parliament (MPs) whose conduct was both illegal and morally reprehensible," Davidson said.
Davidson said he would write to Ben Turok, Ethics Committee chairperson, and request that, in light of the list of Travelgate MPs being made public, that he fully investigate all who have failed to pay back the money owed to Parliament.
"The action taken by the Ethics Committee against Yolanda Botha last week should be the rule, not the exception. MPs that have defrauded and undermined the integrity of Parliament must be investigated and brought to book," he said.
The list of MPs implicated in the Travelgate scandal included a number of high-ranking ANC members, including State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, whose wife has been found guilty of drug smuggling.