Parliament must scrap and not reduce the number of free plane tickets for former MPs and their spouses

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) calls upon Parliament to totally scrap and not just simply reduce the number of free plane tickets for former Members of Parliament (MPs) and their spouses. The reduction of free plane tickets provided for former MPs and their spouses in Parliament’s revised travel policy is a step in the right direction. However, it is not enough, the federation wants Parliament must revise its travel policy and scrap all benefits, including free plane tickets for all former MPs and their spouses.

Parliament is no different from any other workplace. When an employee leaves their place of employment they leave with the remaining salaries and pensions due to them and nothing more. MPs and their spouses should not be treated differently.

Plane tickets provided to MPs are a tool of the trade that is offered to enable them to travel from their homes and constituencies to Parliament. A lesser number of tickets are provided for their spouses and dependent children to enable them to live with their family members whilst Parliament is in session. These are tools of the trade and are no different from cell phone and car allowances that are provided to MPs for the duration of their term. They are not lifelong benefits.

Entertaining spouses and flying them around the country is the responsibility of the persons who married them, not the taxpayers.

The government is experiencing severe financial constraints and has imposed drastic austerity budget cuts to key frontline services that the poor depend upon, including education, health, policing, and social grants. It is therefore unacceptable that the MPs have chosen to ignore this and continue their path of enrichment and self-entitlement. They continue to vote for former MPs and their spouses to receive 12 free domestic plane tickets per annum. 

These are the very same MPs who voted for a budget that imposed a 0% increase on the wages of nurses, teachers, police, and correctional service officers in 2020. These MPs across party lines have sought to lecture public servants, including lowly paid cleaners and security guards on the need to tighten their belts. The value of these free plane tickets per MP and spouse will in some instances be double what a cleaner in the public service earns in a year. 

These are the same MPs under whose watched state capture, the looting of billions of taxpayers’ money, the collapse of State-Owned Enterprises, and the highest unemployment rate in South Africa’s history. We should be asking if they deserve the salaries that they are paid, let alone giving them and their spouses free plane tickets for life. 

We should not applaud politicians for committing to eating less at the taxpayers’ expense. This cosmetic reduction in benefits for former MPs and their spouses is an abomination and an insult to the workers and the unemployed. Parliament must develop a sense of conscience and scrap all benefits for former MPS and their spouses. Anything less should be rejected with the contempt it deserves.

Issued by COSATU.

For more information please contact 

Matthew Parks-COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator

Cell: 082 785 0687