Con air: Former ministers and spouses continue to claim for travel, despite benefit cut - report

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Former ministers and their spouses have claimed over R20 million in travel claims between April 2018 and March 2020.
Former ministers and their spouses have claimed over R20 million in travel claims between April 2018 and March 2020.
PHOTO: Yunus Mohamed/Gallo Images
  • A PAIA application from the DA has revealed that former minsters and their spouses claimed more than R20 million for domestic travel between April 2018 and March this year.
  • The travel benefits for former ministers and their spouses were scrapped from the ministerial handbook last year.
  • The DA plans to challenge the payouts, saying they may amount to irregular spending.


Despite a cut in benefits, former ministers and their spouses claimed more than R20 million in travel claims between April 2018 and March 2020, according to a Sunday Times report.

Former ministers used to be able to claim up to 48 domestic business class flights a year, but this benefit was removed from the ministerial handbook last year. A reduced benefit was available for deputy ministers and the spouses of former ministers and deputy ministers.

Since this revision in 2019, however, Parliament spent almost R10 million on flights for former ministers and their spouses.

These include former National Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk, apartheid-era ministers Adriaan Vlok and Roelf Meyer, and so-called "weekend special" Des van Rooyen, who infamously served as finance minister under former president Jacob Zuma for two days.

In a strongly worded statement on Sunday, DA MP Leon Schreiber also named Malusi Gigaba, Tina Joematt-Pettersson, Faith Muthambi, Dina Pule, Dipuo Peters, Ben Martins, David Mahlobo and others.

The full list can be viewed here.

Parliament provided a detailed list of 200 former ministers, deputies and their spouses who lodged travel claims between April 2018 and March this year, after a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application from the DA.

The ministerial handbook was revised by Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu in November last year. Mchunu's spokesperson, Kamogelo Mogotsi, reportedly confirmed that free flights for former members of the executive had been removed from the handbook.

'Immoral, corrupt and a waste of money'

Parliament's spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, told Sunday Times that the legislature had budgeted for flights for former members of the executive and their spouses. Mothapo added that Parliament was drafting an amended policy that would make changes to the controversial benefit.

Schreiber fought for a year to get the amounts from Parliament, according to Rapport.

He described the "luxury flights" as "immoral, corrupt and a waste of money at a time when more and more South Africans are plunged into poverty".

He also questioned their legality.

He said: 

Not only is Parliament forced to pay for former Cabinet members, but this agreement also violates the principle of the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive. Apart from the ministerial textbook, there is no law approving this waste.

Schreiber wrote to newly appointed Auditor-General (AG) Tsakani Maluleke, asking him to investigate whether Parliament's payment for the flights was irregular expenditure.

"Should the Auditor-General come to the conclusion that this indeed amounts to irregular expenditure, I have requested that the AG take appropriate remedial action to force Parliament to entirely scrap this provision and to recover the tens of millions of rand lost to the state over the past 26 years," Schreiber said on Sunday.

The AG's office has confirmed that the request is being considered.

 - Compiled by Nicole McCain

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