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Zimbabwe MPs demand overdue allowances

by Staff reporter
12 Feb 2023 at 11:07hrs | Views
LEGISLATORS are yet to be paid allowances backdating to September last year, despite getting assurance they would be paid during last year's pre-budget seminar, and Treasury having budgeted for them.

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa this week said some legislators were incapacitated.

"My point of national interest is sad because we seem to be seized with it and I know that it has a lot of unnecessary responsibility. It is about the welfare of the members of Parliament, in particular their outstanding allowances they have not received their outstanding allowances from September," Mliswa said.

"I would like to thank you for the US$40 000 that we received as it is said that half a loaf is better than nothing. So, I want to thank the government for the disbursement of the US$40 000. On allowances, we did not get our monies, especially after coming from the Pre-budget Seminar.

"This was in November, so we actually thought that since we had the Pre-budget in November, all the outstanding issues would be taken care of. We then went on a break; there are field visits that are also outstanding in terms of payments. The rate was ZW$600 at that time and now it has gone to ZW$1 200, so we are merely getting half of what we were supposed to get.

"So it is really out of that and the Pre-budget (seminar) also alluded to the fact that the Standing Orders Committee would sit down to come up with a way forward in terms of accommodation and allowances for the members of Parliament for those who do not stay in hotels. That is also an outstanding issue because the minister of Finance and Economic Development said that money has already been budgeted for," Mliswa said.

In response, the Speaker of Parliament, seemingly surprised, said that he was unaware that MPs had not received their allowances, a remark which was met with inaudible interjections.

"Since September?" he asked. "I am there. I have got an open door policy, I am there. September, October, November, December, four months then January and now we are in February. Hon. T. Mliswa, answer that one, manga makamirira chii? (what were you waiting for?) when I am there?"

However, the legislators said they have been engaging through their chief whips, but in vain.

"Some of the honourable members have chief whips who represent them. If the chief whips fail to represent their people, then that is where I come in. I am only a messenger because some people have failed to do their jobs. I do not belong to any political party, but the members of Parliament have approached me saying that I must convey their messages," said Mliswa.

Since last year, legislators have been facing challenges booking into hotels, due to late payment of debts by Parliament.

Last year, Parliament was forced to hold its Pre-budget Seminar in Harare, after hotels in Victoria Falls had demanded payment upfront. Parliament had accrued huge unpaid bills which it had been failing to settle.

As a result, lawmakers were denied accommodation at top hotels in Harare while on parliamentary business.

"The other issue is on the car loans that are outstanding. I am appealing also on the issue of duty free US$30 000 because it was agreed.

In October last year, disgruntled Zanu-PF members of Parliament met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga at State House, complaining about their incapacitation due to the erratic payment of salaries, allowances and the non-provision of fuel, which they said was hindering their work and hampering visibility in their constituencies.

The legislators also complained bitterly over Finance minister Mthuli Ncube's perceived hostility towards them, which they said was a worrying development ahead of general elections.

As previously reported by The NewsHawks, the Zanu-PF legislators said they were incapacitated and financially paralysed, such that they could not effectively work for the President in their constituencies, which they said was worrisome ahead of the elections.

The NewsHawks also gathered that during the meeting, the Zanu-PF MPs told their two leaders that due to non-payment of salaries and allowances, they were unable to conduct projects back home in their constituencies so as to prop up the image of the party and President ahead of polls.

"The MPs also complained about fuel. They indicated that distribution of fuel coupons has become irregular to an extent that it was affecting their programmes in constituencies," said a source who spoke to The NewsHawks.

Another issue brought to Mnangagwa's attention is that of car loans which they had pegged at US$80 000, but were cut by Minister Ncube to US$50 000.

The Zanu-PF MPs from outside Harare proposed that they be given a flat fee of US$100 per night so they could secure their own accommodation when they pitch up for parliamentary business between Sundays and Thursdays, said another source.

At that point, Chiwenga is said to have promised that he would directly instruct ministers to promptly attend the grilling sessions and have Parliament administration maintain a register of attendance.

Excerpts from this week's parliamentary session show that the non-payment of MPs' allowance is yet to be addressed, months after the seminar.

Source - thenewshawks
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