Parliament Secretary again accused of wasteful expenditure

BY CHARL BOSCH - JUNE 6, 2016

Parliament has expressed outrage at weekend reports that its Secretary, Gengezi Mgidlana, blew an estimated R134 000 of taxpayers money in just over four months, on business-class fights and stayovers in luxury Johannesburg hotels while on so-called “unclassified meetings” with his wife Lerato.

According to alleged confidential documents obtained by the Sunday Times, Mgidlana and his wife made use of chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz E-classes during their stays, and that he also authorised the use of a Parliamentary-service Audi fitted with blue lights to ferry his family around Cape Town in 2015, as well as giving himself a R71 000 salary increase in March last year after only three months in office.

In a statement, Parliament said the accusations were not only “baseless and “an unfair insinuation”, but that it also makes “a muckraking” of the Mgidlana’s personal lives “which have nothing to do with Parliament”.

“To use Parliament’s reply to specific questions to legitimise such an article is unfair and tantamount to abuse of journalistic access,” the statement read.

“Whistle blowing is a prescribed process in the relevant act. This is encouraged as a protected way to expose improper conduct. Taking documents and leaking them to media is however not whistle blowing”.

The statement also denied the paper’s claims that Mgidlana ever asked for a vehicle to be fitted with blue lights, as well as the alleged salary increase.

“It is not clear how the Secretary achieved this feat without the approval and authorisation of the Executive Authority of Parliament as required by the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act,” Parliament said.

“It is only the executive authority who instructs the accounting officer and who can authorise any deviation. Nowhere in the article is there any reference to breach of policy”

It also stated that while Mgidlana’s position entitles him to make use of “certain facilities”, “this does not make him a rock star, a president, or a presiding officer”, adding that the author, who reportedly served in an unspecified political party, is expected to understand the policy of Parliament before commenting.

“It has clearly become standard practice for some journalists at Parliament to rely entirely on leaked documents and unauthorised information supplied at regular intervals by internal sources with an axe to grind,” the statement continued.

“Parliament re-iterates its position that all the services which its officials, including the Secretary to Parliament, are afforded are in accordance with approved Parliament policies and designed to optimise performance and effectiveness. This was the case in relation to the Secretary’s travel”.

 

In April, a number of opposition parties called for Mgidlana to be investigated after CityPress reported that he splurged nearly R2-million on a ten day visit to Europe in September last year for himself and four staff members, which again included business-class flights, staying in luxury hotels, and making use of chauffer driven vehicles.