Govt yet to avail vehicles for MPs

HARARE - The new Ford Ranger vehicles promised to Parliamentarians by government last month are turning out to be a pie in the sky as almost 90 percent of the legislators are yet to receive them.

This comes amid revelations that the cash-strapped government, which is being accused of profligate spending on perks for ministers and government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of lowly paid civil servants, is struggling to pay for the 360 top-of-the-range vehicles worth over $12 million.

The few MPs who managed to access their vehicles from Croco Motors are said to have got them on first come, first serve basis.

The lawmakers who have on more than one occasion endured the indignity of being kicked out of hotels for unpaid hotel bills, were relieved in May when it was disclosed at a joint caucus meeting held by MPs from across the political divide and Parliament administration staff that the Parliamentary Vehicle Scheme had received the green-light from Treasury.

The MPs however, were also not happy that while they are receiving vehicles worth $35 000 for a fee, Cabinet ministers got vehicles worth anything between $50 000 and $60 000 for free.

Innocent Gonese, the opposition MDC chief whip told the Daily News on Sunday that most MPs were still struggling to access their vehicles from Croco Motors partly due to lack of funding and “logistical problems” from the supplier.

“It should be noted that government does not have money and that the vehicles were not paid for in cash so there are bound to be logistical problems,” said Gonese adding that: “For the vehicles that are available there also have been challenges in getting free duty certificates from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.”

The unavailability of vehicles has however, spared MPs from the ruling Zanu PF party as their party allowed their candidates to retain the ones they were given during campaigns last year.

Christopher Chigumba, the Zanu PF MP for Chitungwiza South said most of his colleagues were not in a hurry to get the Ford Rangers save for those that were elected into the august house through proportional representation.

“We are covered my son, Zanu PF gave us vehicles so those from my party who are not visiting their constituencies regularly are doing so deliberately,” said Chigumba.

Another Zanu PF legislator Remigeous Matangira said he wanted to see government showing more commitment to improve the lot of civil servants.

“I am an individual who has worked hard and I have a farm and a small mine so I can afford to buy my own car. The parliamentary vehicle is a bonus, so I think government should also consider civil servants’ welfare because it is important,” said the dreadlocked lawmaker.

However Jessie Majome, the MDC MP for Harare West said government was violating section 141 of the country’s Constitution which says that it must make sure that all parliamentary proceedings are facilitated by providing adequate funding.

Majome said government’s failure to provide legislators with vehicles impacted negatively on the quality of representation that lawmakers give to their constituencies.

“MPs are being made to improvise on important national issues and that does not augur well for the delivery of their mandate,” Majome said.

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