By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
15 May 2014
The ruling ZANU PF has caved in to MPs demands for top of the range vehicles, at a time when the country’s economy is in free fall.
Each of the 355 Members of Parliament and Senators will receive a $35,000 grant under the Parliamentary Vehicle Scheme to buy the luxury cars from Croco Motors.
The grant, being facilitated by the Ministry of Finance, will cost the taxpayer a whopping $12.4 million. In February government bought Mercedes Benz E350 sedans, Toyota Land Cruisers and Range Rover Sport vehicles for 10 provincial ministers and 24 deputy ministers.
The vehicles cost an estimated $130,000 for a Mercedes Benz, up to $160,000 for the Range Rover Sport and $140,000 for a Toyota Land Cruiser. Before that the ruling ZANU PF had already spent $20 million on top-of-the-range vehicles for its 26 Cabinet ministers.
Ezra ‘Tshisa’ Sibanda, the MDC-T candidate for Vungu in the Midlands province in the last election, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that government should learn to prioritize issues affecting the country rather than buying luxury vehicles for legislators.
‘They can’t even afford to feed and take care of flood victims at Chingwizi but they’re rushing to purchase vehicles, the same vehicles that will be used by the MPs to visit the flood victims. How is that going to look? Asked Sibanda.
‘When I passed through Parliament yesterday (Wednesday) I saw the MPs jumping up and down like kids very excited at the news that they were finally getting their cars. They forgot to debate pertinent issues and their minds all focused on the new cars,’ added Sibanda.
Thousands of families displaced by floods at Tokwe-Mukosi are still struggling for tents and food at Chingwizi where they are temporarily sheltered. Millions of others are on the verge of starvation, with a cash-strapped United Nations issuing an appeal to raise $60 million to feed hungry Zimbabweans.
Critics, including outspoken ZANU PF MP Themba Mliswa, have argued that government should have purchased the vehicles from Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries to stimulate the local economy.
Reports say 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 210 jobs at risk.