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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Travelgate 2

'Travelgate stench deepens'

Douglas Gibson, chief whip of the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition, has utilised the privilege of parliament to let loose some stunning statistics on the so-called Travelgate scandal. The corrupt scheme, which involved certain travel agents and dozens of members of parliament (MPs), saw certain members of parliament converting travel allowances into cash.

The cash was then used for any reason except travel. Gibson claims that as many as 200 MPs have been sued by liquidators "and have paid or else are paying" with the hope of escaping prosecution. Gibson complained bitterly that "the people of South Africa do not know who these MPs are and why they incurred these debts".

Some four years into the Travelgate saga, Gibson moaned that the end had by no means been reached. "It is surprising", the opposition chief whip stated, "that 20 or so honourable members are still here after they have pleaded guilty to charges of defrauding the people".

Gibson said that he would not anticipate the findings of a parliamentary committee overseeing the Travelgate saga. "Its purpose", Gibson reminded, "is to recommend how parliament should deal with honourable members who are convicted criminals".

Gibson further stated that "two honourable cabinet ministers who are married to each other had to repay more than R300 000 to the liquidators". He did not name the two ministers, but a rudimentary knowledge of the list of ministers leads to only one conclusion as to the identity of the pair.

Gibson did, however, name Mbulelo Goniwe, the erstwhile ANC chief whip, who was fired for sexual misconduct, as having to repay R70 000. "It is a surprise," Gibson complained, "that members could make a mistake amounting to that much money and yet have done nothing illegal which makes them liable to criminal prosecution. Surely this is something that cries out for an explanation?"

Gibson voiced broader concern that President Thabo Mbeki, also leader of the ANC, had said "nothing about crime in parliament and has failed to act". Surely the ANC, Gibson asked, "considers that those among us who have stolen money from the people are not fit to be parliamentarians? From the word go the DA stated that any MP convicted of dishonesty with the people's money would be removed from parliament".

Gibson further complained about foot dragging over Travelgate prosecutions. The Parliamentary Oversight Authority had been assured by the Scorpions, a division of the National Prosecuting Authority, that they prosecutions would be instituted were there was a case. In recent months, Gibson said he believed that "a great deal more information has become available" and yet "no further prosecutions have yet been instituted. Perhaps they will be soon".
Gibson also wanted "the truth" to come out as contained in the original PricewaterhouseCoopers report. "Until we have cleared up every last crumb of doubt about Travelgate", Gibson continued, "the smell will permeate this parliament. Our people regard corruption as one of our biggest problems. While people in high positions in public life get away with it, corruption will not be stopped".

(Barry Sergeant, moneyweb.co.za, 14 February 2007)

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.