Travelgate: parties fume

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The ANC's move to terminate the investigation into the Travelgate scandal must be seen for what it is - an attempt to let the perpetrators off the hook and to indemnify ANC politicians who might be prosecuted for the multimillion rand arms deal, opposition parties said yesterday.

This was in reaction to a notice in the Government Gazette on Friday, instructing the liquidators of Bathong Travel, one of the affected travel agencies, "not to pursue any action against the various MPs in relation to the un-invoiced tickets, levies and services".

The notice directs the liquidators to cease all other litigation against the MPs in relation to all vouchers that might have been utilised by Bathong Travel, its directors or shareholders.

UDM president Bantu Holomisa condemned the "cynical manner" in which the politicians were being let off the hook.

"The stealthy attempt to cancel their debt to parliament makes a mockery of the concept of accountability," Holomisa said.

He said he suspected this was an ANC's strategy to blackmail MPs in future, when the ruling party came back to indemnify the people involved in such "despicable self-enrichment schemes" as the arms deal.

"This sends the wrong signal that MPs - especially high-ranking ANC members - are above prosecution," he said.

DA chief whip Ian Davidson said the officials who stole public money must feel the full force of the law and cannot simply be let off the hook.

Davidson wrote to National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete yesterday to ask for reasons for the sudden termination of the Travelgate investigation.

Davidson said the DA had also applied for the full list of implicated politicians and the amounts repaid by those who pleaded guilty to be made public in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.