Getrude Makhafola
2 minute read
7 Apr 2022
2:33 pm

Former MPs downgraded from business class travel to economy

Getrude Makhafola

Parliament says the reduced benefits will save government R22 million in the next five years.

Photo: Twitter/@ParliamentofRSA

Free flights for former members of cabinet, ex-MPs and their families have been reduced from 48 to 12, in a move expected to save taxpayers at least R22 million in the next five years.

Parliament on Thursday said the new policy is a culmination of work to address “unjustifiable costs” in travel benefits provided to former MPs, including those who served before 1994 during the apartheid era.

An ex-MP enjoyed 48 domestic business class tickets a year for themselves, spouse and children.

As of 1 April, they are allocated only 12 flights for domestic economy class.

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The flights are now limited to up five years after an MP retires and no longer a life time benefit as per the previous policy.

“Tickets may not be accumulated and must be used in the year allocated, those not used in the year applicable are forfeited.

“While there was no criteria previously for former Members of the Executive to qualify for their facility, the new policy provides that former Members may only qualify if they complete a full term of Parliament,” said Parliament’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

He added that taxpayers forked out R46 million in travel benefits for former cabinet members and MPs between 2015 and 2020.

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Furthermore, the benefits are now only applicable if an MP completed their term of Parliament.

“Based on projections, applying the new policy provisions and informed by assumptions on future utilisation and flight costs, the estimated reduction in expenditure over the next five years is R22m.

“Parliament is confident that the new travel policy will significantly reduce the funding required for this purpose, which lifts the burden from the public purse in light of the socio-economic hardships confronting South Africans.”

There are at least 209 former members of the executive, their spouses, widows and widowers who enjoy the travel benefits.

According to Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Leon Schreiber, if a minister and their spouse used their full allocation over a 20 year period after retirement, they cost taxpayers over R11.5m.

“Similarly, a retired deputy minister and their spouse who made full use of the allocation would cost taxpayers R8.6 million over a 20 year period,” he said.

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