No sympathy for self-serving MPs

HARARE - It is difficult to generate any sympathy for the 27 legilators who got stranded in China last week. 

They were not on official business but on personal shopping sprees, travelling on air tickets which cost each of the lawmakers $250 up front with an outstanding balance of $1 000 to be paid off in the next six months. 

The legislators were stranded not because the aircraft did not arrive on time or had mechanical problems but because they missed the flight after they went off on a 2 300km trip across China to purchase cheaper goods.  As any traveller anywhere in the world knows, the burden of responsibility is on the passenger to be at the airport, station or terminus at the prescribed departure point in time.

If you are late it departs without you, regardless of your personal status.

That this embarrassing debacle involved people in positions of leadership is bad enough but that it comes at a time when the country is struggling to stay afloat is even worse. 

When civil servants are staggering from month to month, their pay dates not guaranteed and promised increments not being honoured, what kind of example are our legislators setting?

It is impossible to empathise with lawmakers stranded on the other side of the world because they were on a shopping spree while their constituents are  struggling to eke out a decent living — selling airtime, vegetables and second hand clothes on street corners, and others are losing their jobs as companies collapse. 

As the news made headlines, there were repeated assertions from official quarters that the legislators had been on personal business but then came the excuses which made things worse.

Speaking in Parliament last week the Mutasa South Member of Parliament  Irene Zindi said because of the demands made on them by their constituents legislators were: “engaging in corrupt practices and smuggling gold among other things so as to satisfy the electorates and assist them.”

It is a very tall order to expect us to believe that legislators are involved in gold smuggling and other illegal activities so that they can use the money they raise in order to help people in their communities.

Far more conceivable, was the statement made in the same parliamentary debate attributed to Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese: “I know that some of the new MPs are wondering — is this what we are getting after investing so much in campaigning?’’

Investing so much in campaigning and hoping for green grass — is a sad description of the self-serving aspirations and qualities that so many of our present leaders now have.

During election time they come with grand promises, often bearing gifts to sway voters but once in office we hardly ever see them again until the next elections.

As with the excuse of gold smuggling, it’s far-fetched to believe these MP’s went to China to buy goods to sell so that they could help their constituents.

We vote people into positions of authority and responsibility so that they can serve us, voice our concerns in Parliament and develop the country, not so that they can enrich themselves. Self enrichment is a spreading epidemic that is plaguing Zimbabwe.

In recent years, we seem to have completely lost the ethos of service and instead become obsessed with self service and personal enrichment.

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