By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
12 February 2014
MDC-T legislators have written to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, demanding better and bigger perks.
If approved, the proposals will cost Treasury an extra $89 million, the Herald newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe has one of the world’s biggest parliaments with 350 members for a relatively small population of 13 million people.
The MPs want a hike in their sitting allowances from $75 to $200 a day, which adds up to $600 per week per legislator.
The MPs also want executive vehicles such as the Land Rover Discovery or Jeep Grand Cherokees, (just one costs $100,000), and which they can buy at book value at the end of their terms.
Other demands include an option to buy, duty-free, an additional vehicle of their own choice; exemption from paying toll fees; 100 litres of fuel a week and further fuel for constituency or provincial work; and accommodation allowances for all legislators, including those who already reside in Harare.
MDC-T deputy President Thokozani Khupe who co-signed the letter with MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese, confirmed that her party’s parliamentary caucus is spearheading the demands.
Khupe said it was common knowledge that MP’s are poorly remunerated and don’t get paid their allowances most of the time.
“The issue is not about the letter, but the failure by this government to look after honourable MPs, who have to use public transport because they either have no vehicles or fuel.
“Everyone knows that some MPs are being evicted from their homes because they can’t afford to pay rent, some can’t pay fees for their children.
“So it’s not just about the letter but the welfare of MPs,” Khupe said.
The MDC-T deputy leader denied that their demands are ill-timed and unreasonable in a country where the majority of the population is living in poverty.
She said MPs are aware of the hardships being faced by Zimbabweans as a result of the gross corruption and economic mismanagement by ZANU PF.
“We know that a million children have failed to access primary education because the government has failed to pay, and that our hospitals have no medicines etc.
“The government cannot say there is no money even to pay civil servants the promised salary increment, where is the money from the sale of diamonds going?
“These are signs that ZANU PF have failed and people should not be asking us whether we wrote the letter or not but should be interrogating this government about these failures,” Khupe added.
Part of the letter by the MDC-T legislators called for an intra-party meeting to discuss the welfare of the MPs, but ZANU PF chief whip Jorum Gumbo told the Herald that he did not think the proposals were “feasible”. He also indicated that they may not join the discussions as they “do not want to be seen to have come to Parliament to give ourselves huge monies.”
But Gumbo’s comments have been regarded as being hypocritical as in September ZANU PF spent $20 million on luxury vehicles for its bloated single-party Cabinet, despite more than two million people urgently needing food.
The party is also at the centre of the current corruption storm where State-linked enterprises have been looted dry, with the blessing of top government officials.
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