The Sunday Mail
Members of Parliament are failing to perform key duties, including visiting constituencies and carrying out fact-finding missions outside Harare, amid revelations they have gone for six months without allowances and other benefits.
In terms of an existing benefits structure, each legislator is entitled to US$75 per sitting and fuel coupons. Portfolio and thematic committee fact-finding missions in and outside the capital should also be financed through Parliament.
However, the parliamentarians are yet to receive sitting allowances amounting to US$1,4 million since the House opened last September. They have also gone for weeks without fuel coupons, a situation that has curtailed visits to their respective constituencies.
Responding to inquiries from The Sunday Mail last week, Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma said: “We are aware that allowances have not been paid, but we are still waiting for Treasury to release the money for the allowances.”
The Standing Rules and Orders Committee’s welfare sub-committee chairman, Dr Joram Gumbo, said the welfare of parliamentarians was a cause for concern.
Dr Gumbo said he recently discussed the matter with Finance and Economic Development Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa.
“It is true. MPs are not happy about their welfare. We have not received our sitting allowances since the House was opened last year and the figure is about US$1,4 million. We are also owed US$4 million for sitting allowances from the previous Parliament.
“Some weeks ago, I had a meeting with Finance Minister Cde Chinamasa and I raised our complaint. He said Government would look into the matter. So, we are now waiting to hear from them. All we have to do is be patient and wait.
“We have also not benefited from the vehicle fund where we are supposed to get loans to buy vehicles that we will use in our constituencies. In the budget, Minister Chinamasa said he would give us US$2,5 million for the vehicle fund, but nothing has come through so far.”
A disgruntled National Assembly member who preferred anonymity urged Treasury to expedite the release of the funds.
“I think we have reached breaking point now. We have gone for six months without receiving our sitting allowances and nobody seems to care about our welfare.
“We are not even getting fuel coupons yet we need fuel to go to our constituencies and interact with the people who tell us what they want to be addressed in Parliament.”
Another MP castigated Government for prioritising the welfare of Cabinet ministers only.
“We are an arm of the State, but there is a huge gulf in the way we are treated compared to our colleagues in the Executive. You have never heard ministers complain.
“They receive all their allowances and vehicles on time, but when it comes to us, nobody seems to care.”
Zimbabwe’s bicameral Parliament has 350 legislators with 210 elected into the National Assembly’s Lower House which also has 60 females who make up the women’s quota, while the Upper House is made up of 80 Senators.