REPORT: Parliament Secretary in R2-million Eurotrip row

BY CHARL BOSCH - APRIL 25, 2016

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Parliament to investigate after weekend media reports claimed that its Secretary blew nearly R2-million on a ten day visit to Europe in September last year.

According to a Sunday CityPress article, Gengezi Mgidlana and four staff members reportedly spent R940 622 on a visit to England and Scotland, described as a “benchmarking” exercise tour, which included accommodation costs of R177 350 for three nights, renting of chauffeur driven vehicles costing R65 118, and using business class South African Airways and British Airways flights.

Documents obtained by the paper shows that Mgidlana and his entourage stayed at the luxury Conrad London St James Hotel with his room costing R14 050 a night, and those of his colleagues between R6 900 and R10 870.

It also states that Mgidlana and two officials then visited Turkey a week later to study the workings of its Parliament, before concluding the trip  in Geneva as part of an inter-parliamentary union conference, which National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete was supposed to attend but never did. CityPress states that these visits cost an additional R900 000.

“This is a disgusting appropriation of public funds and Mr Mgidlana and his office must account for it,” DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said in a statement.

“Parliament is currently debating government budgets, yet under Mr Mgidlana the institution refuses to set an example for the departments and entities that report to it. This instance is just another in a questionable string that clearly illustrate that Parliament needs a standing committee to oversee its enormous budget”.

Speaking to the paper, Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacob said the trip was in-line with Parliament’s protocol, and that its effects were already visible.

“Some of the lessons learnt and experienced have already been implemented, and have influenced the institution’s plans and practices,” he said.