Govt to splash $11m on chiefs' vehicles

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s broke government is set to splash $11 million on off-road vehicles to appease the increasingly vocal chiefs who want to be feted like kings.

This comes as ordinary Zimbabweans reel from a raft of tax and price hikes precipitated by government’s desperate measures to increase revenue.

The chiefs have been instrumental in engineering Zanu PF electoral victories and are regarded as an important constituency by Mugabe.

On Tuesday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament that Treasury was seized with the chiefs’ request for off-roader vehicles —  280 Ford Rangers — whose price averages $50 000 at local dealerships.

“As you know, traditional leaders countrywide exceed a total (of) 250 and what it means is that the amount required is quite a lot, but I want to inform you that we have the desire and hope to address that issue as soon as I can do it,” Chinamasa said.

“It is a request that I am aware of.”

Chinamasa did not say when Treasury was going to buy the cars, although the chiefs expect swift delivery.

“We have asked government to look into our welfare and provide us with vehicles,” chief Musarurwa of Mashonaland East told the Daily News.

“Handiti munhu anoti kana akagara zvakanaka, anoti ndakagara samambo, asi kwatiri hapana chatinacho. Ichi ndicho chichemo chedu kuhurumende. (If a person is living large, he says I am living like a king, but we are not enjoying and this is our plea to government).”

Previously, the partisan chiefs have benefitted from loan vehicle schemes.

Chinamasa in May unveiled a Parliamentary Vehicle Loan Scheme valued at $14,4 million through a CBZ facility which saw government purchasing 350 brand new Ford Rangers for leglislators.

The latest demands by the chiefs have been fuelled by Mugabe’s encouraging speech at the chiefs’ annual conference held in Gweru recently.

Mugabe told the chiefs they could get any car they wanted and government would bankroll the purchases.

The chiefs want to be treated in the same manner as Cabinet ministers and senior civil servants.

“This is not new as we once received a chiefs’ loan vehicle scheme in 2005, and we are also asking for another vehicle scheme which other senior government officials are enjoying,” Musarurwa said.

“I reminded minister Chinamasa not to forget us when allocating funds to purchase vehicles for Members of Parliament.

“I thought that he was also going to remember that there are traditional leaders in the rural areas who do not have transport.

“So, I am looking forward for an allocation to be made towards the ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing for the traditional leaders to get vehicles since it is this ministry that works with traditional leaders.”

The purchase of the vehicles is likely to further rock the boat for a government accused of profligate spending on perks for ministers and government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of lowly-paid civil servants.

Chinamasa, ironically, was hosting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation which was assessing government’s performance on agreed targets set to help Zimbabwe manage its measly finances.

As he promised to splurge on the chiefs’ cars, the IMF, at the end of its visit, warned that government needed to drastically cut its spending and instead plan for food imports.

This is against revised negative growth figures and warning of more food imports which the government must prioritise.

Since the Zanu PF government assumed office, it has bought top-of-the-range luxury and off-roader vehicles for government ministers despite other pressing and more deserving issues.

Chiefs have joined a growing list of Zanu PF related groups that have arm-twisted government  — with success — to have their demands accepted.

In 1998, militant war veterans forced Mugabe’s government to pay them one-off Z$50 000 gratuities which were not budgeted for.

The Zimbabwe dollar crashed in what is now known as “Black Friday” in reference to the day the local unit tumbled against major currencies as a result of the pay-off which was accompanied by a national power blackout.

Comments (7)

I am surprised at Zimbabwean society - people were told by selfish MDC politicians to endorse a Constitution whose contents they did not understand or cared to read first. I remember Tsvangirai telling people to vote “Yes” in the referendum and that the incoming government (MDC-T government) would amend the constitution. MDC-T is not in government and people have to live with what they endorsed at the referendum like pampering the Chiefs in the Reserves. These Chiefs are nothing but placemen who are bribed by politicians to remain in power or to try and get into power. These Chiefs are living in luxury for doing sod all. Chiefs are now sacred cows. Chiefs don't pay any tax. It does not make any sense to moan about outrageous chief executives' pay and perks in cities but not complain when your tax money is used to buy luxury cars for bone idle polygamous traditional chiefs in the Reserves. With such bribes as luxury cars and other perks would the traditional chiefs want a change of government? No way. Chapter 15 Section 284, sub-Section 1 of the Constitution states - “An Act of Parliament must provide for the remuneration and benefits of traditional leaders to be fixed with the approval of the President given on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for finance and after consultation with the Minister responsible traditional leaders”. This is what people of Zimbabwe, MDC-T supporters included, endorsed. Chinamasa can give chiefs anything under the sun and people should not moan. YOU ARE THE ONES WHO ENDORSED THE STUPID CONSTITUTION.

Musona - 4 October 2014

Heya

tigere tigere - 5 October 2014

A week before the 2018 elections, Chombo, Minister responsible for traditional leaders, will arbitrarily announce that the 250 or so traditional leaders will be getting brand new top-of-the-range 4 x 4 cars and a 30% or 40% increment on their monthly salaries for good measure. Chombo can even announce village headmen will also get an increase in their monthly allowances. ZanuPF will not need to coerce any villagers in the Reserves to vote for ZanuPF, the traditional leaders who will have been bribed with brand new cars will do the coercing and campaigning for ZanuPF. It will be “Game Over” for the MDCs or any other political party. That is how lopsided this new Constitution is. The majority of people, maybe 85% to 90%, live in the Reserves under these traditional leaders and are most likely going to vote according to what their traditional leaders tell them. The MDCs can argue amongst themselves forever and a day but theMDCs will not unseat ZanuPF in elections because they unwittingly urged ignorant supporters to endorse a lop-sided Constitution. Traditional leaders are key in any national elections - the more ZanuPF bribes them the more votes ZanuPF will get, simple as that. The private press has also been on the side urging ignorant people to endorse this lopsided Constitution. You cannot moan now. The MDCs have painted themselves into a corner. You have to be streetwise to make it in Zimbabwean politics because ZanuPF is full of con artists.

Musona - 5 October 2014

Put another way - it does not matter whether you are a staunch MDC-T or MDC Renewal or Zapu supporter, you pay tax and Chombo can take your tax and use it to buy traditional leaders' votes and their subjects' votes nearer election time in 2018 and you have no choice in this matter because you endorsed this vote-buying exercise by voting “Yes“ in the referendum. This will happen again just before the 2023 election and subsequent elections thereafter. How stupid is that? There are some people who should not be allowed to vote because they are plain ignorant - that includes the chiefs and all their subjects in the Reserves.

Musona - 5 October 2014

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codzo - 6 October 2014

Guys it is not the constitution it is the abuse of the constitution which is happening here and because we are a docile lot ZanuPF will get away with it. This country does not need chiefs anyway, they are just what they are thieves. Vanotibira kumusha uko vachida ma bandauko emombe dzaurawa pa rufu, pa nyaradzo, pamagadziro even kana uchingoda hako kuzviurayira mombe yako kuti udye nemhuri yako vanokubira bandauko.

Maita Manyuka - 7 October 2014

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