MPs, this is no time for selfishness

HARARE - If we had to pick one adjective that best describes MP’s demands that they be paid for educating their constituents about the draft constitution, that word would be shameful.

Worse still, the call for payment was led by a mainstream MDC MP, Webber Chinyadza.

In the last decade thousands of MDC supporters, members and activists have been tortured and arrested as they struggled to bring change, democracy and a new constitution to Zimbabwe.

Many hundreds more have been brutally murdered in that struggle and Chinyadza’s calls must be making them turn in their graves.  

It was with disgust that ordinary Zimbabweans who continue to struggle with extreme economic hardships read the details of their MPs behaviour.

Chinyadza’s call for payment was greeted with applause from fellow legislators who then walked out of the Copac briefing in apparent protest after being told they would not be getting paid to distribute and publicise the draft constitution.

After close to $50 million was gobbled up by Copac in the four-year marathon to produce this draft constitution, it is disgraceful that MPs should be demanding money to undertake this critically important step.

The MPs demands were being made in the same week that hundreds of Woza members were arrested and beaten outside Parliament in Harare and outside police headquarters in Bulawayo in their annual Valentine’s Day protests that highlight people’s struggle for respect and human rights.

Only four years ago, it was the same MDC MPs who are now demanding extra payments that were also being arrested and beaten; how soon they have forgotten?

Ironically, the very document that Chinyadza and his colleagues are demanding payment to publicise contains guidelines for their own behaviour.

Section 106 of the draft constitution deals with the conduct of vice presidents, ministers and deputy ministers. Clause 2 (c) states that such leaders: “may not, during their tenure of office, use their position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person.”

This latest shame from our MPs comes hot on the heels of their demands for golden handshakes when their term of office comes to an end in the next few months.

It also comes at time when we wait to hear which of our MPs abused the $50 000 constituency development funds.

How many cannot account for the money that was entrusted to them to develop their constituencies and how many enriched themselves and their friends and relatives are the questions everyone wants answered?

After just four years in office it is shameful to see that our newest crop of MP’ have become as greedy and obsessed with self-enrichment as their long standing counterparts some of who have been in office for two to three decades.

Only 100 000 copies of the draft constitution are being printed which means that not many people will actually see the charter that will govern their lives and those of future generations.

It is going to require all hands on deck if the estimated six million adults in our country are to see and understand the 345 clauses of the draft constitution with only less than a month remaining before the referendum.

All hands in all political parties, all civic society groups and all media groups have a national responsibility in the coming month.

At such a critical point in our history this is not the time for yet more money-making schemes by a few greedy individuals who are already in positions of authority and leadership who we expect should know better.

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