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Mnangagwa calls MPs to order

by Staff reporter
28 Dec 2018 at 21:57hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has called on public servants, including legislators, to tighten their belts and stop making outrageous demands as the country goes through a lean restructuring spell.

This comes as legislators from both the MDC and the ruling party Zanu-PF tabled a shocking list of demands to Treasury that among other things include an increase in their budget allocation as well as latest Land Cruiser vehicles.

There was an outcry and disbelief when the MPs' demands were made public and now Mnangagwa, who along with his ministers has taken a five percent salary cut, says there is need for all public servants to lead by example.

"As we restructure, reform and rebuild our economy, cutting expenditure plays an important role. I wish to remind all public servants that we must lead by example, and serve the people with modesty and humility. The sacrifices we make today are the foundations of a better tomorrow," said Mnangagwa.

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, whose MPs were vociferous in demanding the perks distanced himself from the legislators saying the party will not allow people to be short-changed by the demands.

While independent legislator Temba Mliswa was instrumental in pushing for the perks amidst a sea of poverty, other legislators like Gokwe-Nembudziya representative Justice Mayor Wadyajena said the demands by the MPs should be reflective of what is on the ground.

"As elected members of Parliament, we derive our borrowed power from the good people of Zimbabwe and as we all know, the people of Zimbabwe are in a cholera crisis.

"I urge my fellow honourable MPs that we forgo these luxurious, expensive and unnecessary cars at taxpayers' expense. Let's lead by example," said Wadyajena.

Last week, MPs threatened to sink Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's budget forcing the minister to accept their demands.

The MPs want a pension for those who would have served for more than two terms, a gym at Parliament, and a review of their salaries.

However, if Ncube, whose budget punch-phrase is Austerity for Prosperity accedes to the MPs demand then he will have to fork out more than $20 million to purchase the vehicles.

Initially, government was considering acquiring Toyota Hilux double cabs, Isuzu KB D-tech for the MPs but they have now made it clear they want or Toyota Land Cruiser that are valued between $60 000 and $180 000 each.

Considering that the bicameral Parliament has a total of 350 MPs and Senators, at least $21 million would be spent on the legislators in hard currency.

During the eighth Parliament, the lawmakers were mostly given Ford Rangers valued at $35 000 each with those requiring vehicles valued above that having to top up on their own.

The purchase of the off-road monsters is likely to raise a lot of dust for Mnangagwa's administration which has been calling for belt-tightening measures to revive the country's economy.

Government is often accused of unbridled profligate spending on perks for ministers and other government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of ordinary citizens who are wallowing in poverty.

Critics have previously urged government to shun imports when acquiring vehicles for public servants to preserve the little foreign currency in the banking system.

Some have suggested that government should purchase its vehicles from the struggling Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI) to stimulate local production.

WMMI, the country's largest car assembly plant, is currently struggling under the weight of crippling debt and declining sales volumes caused by a spectacular meltdown in its diversified motor industry that has put more than 200 jobs at risk.

In 2013, Parliament's portfolio committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management on Industrial Development Enterprises recommended an urgent bail-out for the firm, but the calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Although the company has vast machinery at its disposal, there is no production taking place and the workshops are deserted, leaving the company with no option but to pay idle workers and other unavoidable fixed costs.

Despite a strong Buy Zimbabwe lobby, bigwigs in government, including MPs, prefer to spend on top-of-the-range imports.

The National Assembly consists of 270 MPs out of which 210 are elected directly in constituencies spread across the country.

The remaining 60 are selected through a quota for women who are chosen on the basis of proportional representation.

The Senate comprises 80 Senators, six of whom are elected from each of the 10 provinces on the basis of proportional representation.

Eighteen of the Senators are Chiefs including the president and deputy president of the National Council of Chiefs and two are from each of the eighth provinces excluding the metropolitan provinces.

The final two are special seats reserved for representation of persons living with disabilities.

Source - dailynews