MPs challenged to forego cars

HARARE - ZANU PF MPs have called on colleagues in Parliament to forgo their perks including top-of-the-range vehicles worth over $20m that government is set to buy them and channel the resources towards combating the cholera epidemic that has so far claimed more than 25 lives.

Following an exposé by our sister publication the Daily News on Friday that Treasury was considering pampering MPs of the ninth Parliament with fuel-guzzling off-road vehicles at a time when government is struggling to mobilise resources to contain a cholera outbreak that has since been declared a national disaster, Zanu PF legislators are contemplating taking the drastic action of foregoing luxury perks that come with being a legislator.

Zanu PF youth league boss Pupurai Togarepi who also doubles as the party’s chief whip in the august House along with the party’s Gokwe Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena took the lead in making the proposal.

A tweet by Justice Mayor Wadyajena 

Wadyajena took to twitter to express his feelings by posting the Daily News story accompanied with the caption: “As elected members of Parliament, we derive our borrowed power from the good people of Zimbabwe & as we all know, the people of Zim are in a cholera crisis. I urge my fellow Hons that we forgo these luxurious, expensive & unnecessary cars at taxpayers’ expense. Let’s lead by example”.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News on Sunday Togarepi weighed in yesterday saying he was going to approach the ruling party’s MPs to persuade them not to take the vehicles.

“I strongly support the idea and in that light I am going to sound fellow MPs to realise that life is far more precious than the vehicles,” Togarepi said.

Togarepi, however, said the party will not force everyone to forgo their perks noting that “at the end of the day it boils down to an individual.

“We are obviously not forcing people. We are only appealing to those who can get extra resources to consider the plight of suffering Zimbabweans.

“I understand that government and the ministry of Health are moving fast to save the situation and there is already serious action on the ground,” he said.

He added, however, that government needs to be bold enough to consider the root cause of the problem which he said was the unavailability of potable water as well as poor sanitation in high density suburbs.

“What is needed is courage do deal with vendors because the situation is so bad that we cannot sacrifice thousands of people’s lives for a few vendors who are causing dirt on the streets.

“We need to ensure that garbage is collected on time and disposed of in a sustainable way so that we do not continue to have people dying from ancient diseases that are no longer found in other countries”.

The Daily News on Sunday is reliably informed that government is considering acquiring Toyota Hilux double cabs, Isuzu KB D-tech or Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series for the lawmakers, valued between $60 000 and $180 000 each.

Considering that the bicameral Parliament has a total of 350 MPs and Senators, at least $21 million would be spent on the legislators in hard currency.

During the eighth Parliament, the lawmakers were mostly given Ford Rangers valued at $35 000 each with those requiring vehicles valued above that having to top up on their own.

The purchase of the vehicles is likely to raise a lot of dust for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration which has been calling for belt-tightening measures to revive the country’s economy.

Government is often accused of unbridled profligate spending on perks for ministers and other government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of ordinary citizens who are wallowing in poverty.

Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said they would only have a clearer picture of the vehicle requirements for the ninth Parliament once the committee on standing rules and orders has looked into the matter.

The committee is chaired by the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda.

“For now, we don’t know what they (MPs) will be given because the committee on standing rules that is responsible for that has not said anything yet,” Chokuda said.

Anticipating brisk business, car dealers have lately been aggressively marketing their vehicles to lawmakers of the ninth Parliament, and officials responsible for procurement.

Outside the Parliament Building in Harare, car dealers have been displaying some of their brands on offer.

The National Assembly consists of 270 MPs out of which 210 are elected directly in constituencies spread across the country.

The remaining 60 are selected through a quota for women who are chosen on the basis of proportional representation.

The Senate comprises 80 Senators, six of whom are elected from each of the 10 provinces on the basis of proportional representation.

Eighteen of the Senators are chiefs including the president and deputy president of the National Council of Chiefs and two are from each of the eighth provinces excluding the metropolitan provinces.

The final two are special seats reserved for representation of persons living with disabilities.

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