Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
2 Jun 2021
7:13 pm

Ex-ministers should should stop leeching off Parliament – Hanekom

Molefe Seeletsa

National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, says Parliament cannot carry on paying for former ministers' benefits, which include free flights.

Derek Hanekom. Picture: Gallo Images/Sunday Times/Elizabeth Sejake

Former minister of tourism Derek Hanekom is in agreement with National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, that Parliament should cease to pay for former Cabinet ministers’ benefits.

On Tuesday, Modise presented Parliament’s budget vote to the National Assembly, in which she revealed that Parliament had been allocated approximately R2.6 billion for the 2021-2022 financial year.

During the budget vote, the speaker indicated that Parliament was looking to get former ministers’ benefits – which include medical aid contributions and free flights – off its books.

“We are engaging the former members of the executive on their continued benefits. The reason we do that, is that the budget for former ministers comes from the budget of Parliament and we cannot continue to do it,” she said.

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Modise further told MPs that Parliament was also engaging with the provincial legislatures to start paying for medical aid contributions of former MPLs.

“In case members do not know, a member of the legislature who has not set foot in this house, when they retire and continue with Parmed, this house carries the bill.

“So what we want to do is not to say we cannot continue, it is to simply ask the legislatures to take their burden over and allow us to continue with our own,” the speaker added.

‘Special Treatment’

Meanwhile, Hanekom, an ANC national executive committee (NEC) member, responded to Modise’s statements indicating that he agreed with the matter.

“I fully agree with the speaker on this one – speaking as a former Cabinet minister. There is no justification for free flights or any special treatment because you were once a minister. Bite the bullet – end it!” Hanekom said on Twitter.

In 2019, Hanekom left his position, although he did indicate that his resignation was not due to financial reasons after many people raised concerns over the pension benefits accrued to former ministers.

Millions spent on luxury flights

In November last year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) called on the auditor-general to investigate Parliament, which spent R10 million annually to pay for the luxury flights former ministers.

Now the party has further revealed that Parliament spent R45.3 million on the flights for retired ministers, among others, between 2014 and 2020.

READ MORE: ‘So much money?’ say unimpressed South Africans on MP salaries

In a statement released on Wednesday, DA MP Leon Schreiber said while the party welcomed Modise’s “Damascus moment” over the benefits for former ministers, it remained concerned by the “apparent plan to simply outsource this wastage of money to the executive and to provincial legislatures”.

“It is unacceptable for her to simply shift the responsibility for this wastage to other parts of government, because at the end of the day it will still be taxpayer money that is wasted on the gravy plane,” he said.

Schreiber said former ministers had “no right to be ferried around in luxury at taxpayer expense even after they retire”, adding that they should pay for their own flight tickets.