New legislation miraculously heals politicians

2013-06-02 06:00

Several previously disabled members of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature have been miraculously cured of ailments that forced them to make use of R15?000-a-month chauffeurs for nearly two years.

Their drivers were paid out of the public purse.

The miraculously healed MPLs are among a group of 22 who, since 2011, qualified for legislature-funded drivers because of old age or medical disability.

Five came from the IFP and the rest from the governing ANC.

But now the legislature has adopted more stringent medical criteria and created a multiparty forum to screen applications.

Most of the 22 have not reapplied for state-sponsored drivers. In terms of the new policy, introduced late last year, MPLs must provide certificates from a general medical practitioner and a specialist.

The member is then referred to two specialists appointed by the legislature, who conduct independent medical examinations.

These medical reports are submitted to the multiparty whips’ committee, which makes recommendations to the Speaker.

DA chief whip Radley Keys said: “There has been a long battle to have the regulations tightened up and more stringent criteria applied. As public representatives, our role is to represent the public, not waste taxpayers’ money. There are genuinely disabled members who qualify, which is fair.”

In April the whips forum met to discuss applications.

After that meeting, they were made to hand back the list of staff who applied because it contained confidential medical reports.

Speaker Peggy Nkonyeni’s spokesperson referred City Press to the legislature’s chief operating officer, Bonga Sibisi, for the full list of MPLs who did not reapply for drivers. Sibisi, in turn, said deputy chief whip Senzo Mkhize had the list.

But Mkhize told City Press he was away sick and could not access the list.

IFP whip Henry Combrink confirmed that five of his party’s MPLs initially applied for drivers on medical or age grounds.

Of these, four – Lionel Mtshali, Busi Mohlaka, Bonga Mdletshe and SV Naicker – have reapplied under the new rules.

IFP provincial leader Blessed Gwala also made a first-time application.

Only three other MPLs, all ANC members, are understood to have applied.

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