Parly reprimands Travelgate MPs

2007-03-29 18:55

Cape Town - The fate of 12 national assembly MPs, who entered into plea bargains with the State last year regarding the fraudulent use of parliamentary travel vouchers, rests with their respective political parties, ruled speaker Baleka Mbete on Thursday.

Making a statement in the house, Mbete said she had received the recommendations of parliament's disciplinary committee and, having considered these and various other factors, decided to issue a reprimand to the 12 MPs.

She asked the MPs - Tsietsi Louw, Sophia Maine, Patrick Maloyi, Lewele Modisenyane, Robert Nogumla, Danny Olifant, Randy Pieterse, Jabu Sosibo, Elizabeth Ngaleka, Bangalizwe Solo, and Barbara Thompson (all African National Congress), and Craig Morkel (formerly of the Democratic Alliance and now of the Progressive Independent Movement) - to stand before addressing them.

'Unbecoming of MPs'

Mbete said: "Under your own signatures, and while being assisted by legal counsel, you have each admitted to wilfully either defrauding or stealing from parliament amounts ranging from R33 000 to R241 000.

"I view the actions to which you have confessed in an extremely serious light, and as unbecoming of members of this honourable house."

Through this case, they had abused the public's trust.

"Not only have your actions reflected negatively on the integrity of all members of parliament, but on the integrity of this esteemed institution, generally. That is totally unacceptable, to say the least."

Mbete said that in applying any sanctions, she acted only within her legal authority.

"I shall therefore communicate, as advised by the disciplinary committee..., with the relevant political parties on any other steps that only they can consider in response to the transgressions of their members," she said.

The disciplinary committee is still considering the cases of 12 other MPs involved.

The move to "name and shame" the "travelgate" MPs was lauded by Democratic Alliance deputy chief whip Mike Ellis.

Mbete's public admonishment of these members was welcome and long overdue, he said.

'Big fish got away'

"The DA remains concerned, though, that this group of MPs is still in parliament; there are also still claims that bigger Travelgate culprits managed to get away while this group is offered as sacrificial lambs.

"The DA echoes the speaker's call for the ANC and PIM leadership to act against their respective MPs.

"These MPs stole money from the taxpayers and must be made to suffer the consequences," said Ellis.