HARARE – Members of Parliament (MPs) have turned to selling their fuel coupons allocation and livestock in a desperate bid to “maintain the lifestyle of a legislator.”
The lawmakers across the political divide who are owed $15 million in outstanding sitting allowances brought the National Assembly to a standstill on Thursday refusing to debate until their welfare issues were addressed.
They went on to delay the pre-budget briefing seminar on Friday demanding that National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda addresses them on the payment of their sitting allowances.
Earlier on Thursday it had irked Norton Member of Parliament Temba Mliswas that Mudenda and the Senate President Edna Madzongwe were on annual leave paid by Parliament.
“So, they are getting their welfare taken care of going on holiday, but we are here. So what are you to say about that? There are packages they are getting. On annual leave, the Speaker goes on holiday spending money, but we are here suffering,” decried Mliswa.
“So, why then should our leader go on annual leave while his children are suffering? How can a father be eating well while the children are suffering? To me, he must be fighting for us, which means we are standing up like this because no one is fighting for us.
“…We cannot go to our constituencies because we are being accused of not doing our job when we have no funding. MPs are selling fuel coupons in order to get money. Our dignity and integrity is no longer there and therefore, we cannot go back to our constituencies. Ministers are being given coupons, pay and new cars, but we have nothing.”
Zanu PF MP for Mutasa South, Irene Zindi was perturbed by the unavailability of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
She also complained that due to outstanding allowances she was failing to service her top-of-the- range vehicle that costs a hefty $600 to service.
“I took my car for service and they want $600. I am only paid $1 000 per month, so where do I get that money from?
“When people die in our constituencies, the bereaved families expect you to sympathise and mourn with them and not only that, when parents have no money to pay school fees for their children, they expect you to assist with payment of fees and the list is endless.
“At our party, whenever a meeting is called, as members of Parliament, we are expected to ferry our respective supporters to and from the meeting venue. When there is a march being held in Harare, we are expected to hire buses and fuel them to ferry our constituents to and from Harare to attend the march.
“As MPs, we are also expected to cater for the welfare of all the people whom you will have brought. Should you fail in carrying out that duty of ferrying and feeding your constituents, they will not vote for you in the next election.
“Some of us are now paupers because in order to sustain the life-style of being an MP, we end up selling our livestock and other properties hence all our funds are depleted. We are now paupers.
“When you compare yourself to ministers, they have ministries, they are given fuel coupons in Parliament and fuel allowances by both their respective ministries and parastatals they also have drivers who are paid by the State. Their cars are serviced by the State but MPs have to service their own vehicles.
“…Madam Speaker, there is no CDF and so, this issue should be taken to our leaders that we are tired. Tomorrow, there is the pre-budget where we will be just given food and we stay in hotels. We are tired of just eating and staying in hotels. We want our money and our Ipads so that we can see what we can do.”
Zanu PF MP for Harare South Shadreck Mashayamombe gave a frank assessment of his tenure as a lawmaker saying he has failed to do anything tangible for his constituency which may not see him being re-elected, albeit placing the blame on failure to access the CDF.
“Thank you Madam Speaker. I understand that you saw me discussing with my colleagues and we were talking about the Constituency Development Fund. We know that if the president was to hear that I was mourning for CDF, he would be very much worried.
“Since I came into this Parliament in 2013, I have never received anything and it pains us a lot,” he said.
“We promised our constituencies that we were going to carry out some developmental projects, but to date I have not been able to carry out any developmental projects. We need these CDF so that we develop our constituencies.”