Govt blasts 'insensitive' legislators

HARARE - Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has blasted insensitive legislators saying they have to wait a bit longer to get their cars.

This comes after legislators from both Zanu PF and the MDC expressed anger at government’s decision to suspend the purchase of new vehicles for them — with the money budgeted for that now earmarked to fight the deadly cholera outbreak which has claimed dozens of lives and left thousands of people requiring treatment.

Ziyambi told the Daily News yesterday that it is too early for the legislators to demand cars.

“It is surprising that they are demanding cars despite that Parliament has just set the committee on standing rules and orders which is required to discuss their affairs,” Ziyambi said.

“They must not complain because it’s just few weeks after they have been sworn in, I don’t think they have received their first salary yet. It’s too early for them to demand cars.

“But I think it is important that the country must deal with the cholera outbreak and there is nothing bad about that. There was no official communication which announced that they are not going to get their cars. Legislators must not rely on speculation. If there is any official communication, the minister will communicate with Parliament administration.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration declared the cholera epidemic a national emergency, as it struggles to raise about $60 million needed to contain the highly infectious disease.

MPs from both the ruling party and the opposition said government’s decision to suspend the purchasing of the vehicles and instead channel that money to fighting cholera was a “travesty” of justice as they were entitled to all their benefits.

Outspoken and independent legislator for Norton Temba Mliswa led the chorus of disapproval over the decision saying it was wrong for the government to suspend the MPs’ entitlements simply because there was a disease outbreak.

“You cannot suspend people’s salaries because there is a cholera outbreak. The problem is that councils are mismanaged. This is an issue of mismanagement,” Mliswa said last week.

“The issue is also about land barons taking over and there is no master plan anymore. The city (of Harare) has lost order. Town councils are so corrupt and at times people are building on wetlands using septic tanks that will get into water sources … and all this has nothing to do with people’s benefits,” Mliswa said.

“There are new MPs who don’t have what we have. You cannot say we are building a nation by destroying the other arm. I have told them (the government) to source cars locally but they have not listened. What is not in doubt is that Parliament is under-funded already. What we need are reserves for such emergencies,” he added.

Although Mliswa was fighting for his colleagues, he is renowned for having consistently refused to accept a parliamentary vehicle ever since he became an MP.

Under the Parliamentary Vehicle Loan Scheme, Treasury purchases the cars for the MPs — who in turn pay back the money as a loan during their five-year tenure in the National Assembly.

Generally, the legislators buy the brand new, all-terrain SUVs for a song — as the repayment terms are extremely friendly and flexible.

Zimbabwe has more than 350 MPs despite having a relatively small population of just over 15 million people.

Comments (1)

I cannot believe how selfish these people are ! I have worked hard for 50 years and have to drive 20 year old car. Many, many people can't afford a car. This culture of entitlement on the part of MPs just proves they don't have their constituents interests at heart.

Gogo - 4 October 2018

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