HARARE - At a time when the broader masses are suffering, the cash-strapped government has yet again splashed money on top four Parliament officials to go holidaying at a cost of $110 000.
This comes as President Robert Mugabe’s stone-broke government has not paid its employees their 13th cheque as promised and is currently toiling to raise their December salaries amid threats of a potentially crippling industrial action.
Yet, Parliament sources told the Daily News yesterday that the same government is affording the luxury of sending Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda, his deputy Mabel Chinomona, Senate president Edna Madzongwe and her deputy Chenhamo Chimutengwende together with their families on expensive trips at the State’s expense.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda confirmed the trips but insisted that there was nothing amiss as it was their entitlement.
“They are entitled to that as part of the conditions of service.
“There is nothing untoward about that.
“By the way, who gave you those figures because those are not supposed to be given to the press? Whoever gave you, if they are officials, broke the law.
“So, I am neither denying nor confirming the figures because they are not for public consumption,” Chokuda said.
The officials’ holiday, the sources said, was for a fortnight and worth over $600 a day.
“They are going for holiday abroad where they will be spending $600 each, per day, on accommodation and food for 14 days.
“I am not sure where Mudenda and Chimutengwende will be spending their holidays but Chinomona is heading for the UK while Madzongwe will be in Dubai,” said a close source at Parliament Building, adding that their families will also be getting allowances “equivalent to those given to Parliament staff when they are out”.
With government frantically trying to avert a looming health catastrophe in the wake of the strike threat by unpaid health workers who early this week said they may not be able to come back to work after the festive holidays, observers have accused the powers that be of misplaced priorities when it comes to resource allocation.
Last year, there was public outcry after government bought 360 new Ford Ranger vehicles worth about $12 million for legislators from Croco Motors.
It was argued at the time that the purchase of the off-road monsters would further rock the boat for a government also accused of profligate spending on perks for ministers and government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of lowly-paid civil servants.
While MPs received the vehicles worth $35 000 each, Cabinet ministers got vehicles worth anything between $50 000 and $60 000.
The total cost of the 100 fuel-guzzling vehicles for ministers was reportedly around $6 million which critics say should have been purchased from struggling auto-companies such as Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries to stimulate the local economy.