The Sunday Mail
It appears hubris is in some way eclipsing common sense in what is supposed to be the august House.
Members of Parliament (MPs) are demanding everything, from ostentatious vehicles, three-course meals and all kinds of luxuries, including demanding the moon.
The last sitting in the National Assembly saw legislators presenting a slew of demands that led many to perceive them as a disingenuous lot. The lavish laundry list of the MPs demands also included diplomatic passports, latest land cruiser vehicles and golf facilities, amid a host of other profligate suggestions.
Remembering Temba Mliswa’s words
It was a surprise that Norton legislator Temba Mliswa was at the forefront of making the demands on behalf of parliamentarians. Some four years ago, the then-Hurungwe West National Assembly member won over the hearts of many when he refused to accept an official vehicle through the Parliamentary Vehicle Loan Scheme.
In an interview with this paper, Mr Mliswa hypothesised that the facility should instead be used to develop poor constituencies. Mr Mliswa passionately spoke out against the vehicle scheme, grilling the decision to award the vehicle purchase contract to Croco Motors ahead of local car assembler Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI).
In the interview, Mr Mliswa appeared to make a lot of sense and won many admirers as he argued that the vehicle initiative should have prioritised WMMI under the banner of creating employment and supporting local industry. Said Mliswa at that time: “We should have had options instead of a car. I would have liked to use my money to renovate a school or a clinic in my constituency. In fact, why should MPs with cars be offered cars? Why should cattle without ticks be taken to a dip tank?”
“We cannot talk about Zim-Asset (the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation) without implementing it ourselves. If we are serious about Zim-Asset, why did we not order locally assembled cars from Willowvale and, in the process, create 2 000 jobs? I have nothing against Croco Motors, but the contract should have been given to Willowvale.”
In media philosophy, Mliswa would have fitted perfectly into Professor Elisabeth Nuelle Nueman’s Spiral of Silence Theory as an avant-garde who stands out by presenting thought-provoking ideas against a bandwagon of other legislators who were all too happy to drive off in the new vehicles.
Fast forward to now, and it has been a volte-face for Mr Mliswa, who is now leading the charge by MPs demanding the endless list of luxuries.
Mr Mliswa is well known for being outspoken, but it was expected that he would use his garrulous predispositions to better use. Contributing to the recent debate in Parliament, Mr Mliswa said MPs deserved to get the latest top-of-the-range vehicles. And this time, he made no mention of WMMI or Quest Motors.
Instead, he was determined to fight for MPs to get the latest top-of-the range Land Cruisers, which reportedly cost around $100 000.
Perhaps it was lost to Honourable Mliswa that only a few millions are needed to recapitalise WMMI and create hundreds of opportunities for desperate jobless people with expertise in the vehicle manufacturing industry.
“MPs are handicapped and we are talking of only one car, a Land Cruiser, which is the only car good enough for MPs to do their work because the Mazdas and Toyotas we get are not good enough.
“MPs must have world-class gyms and recreational facilities to play golf. MPs must also be given diplomatic passports,” Mliswa said.
Mr Mliswa shocked many when he also suggested that the State should pay for the MP’s recreational activities, including playing golf.
Austerity for Prosperity
At the rate they are going, the Members of Parliament will very soon request for luxury villas, Ferraris and Bugattis or even massage therapists if they are not kept in check. It boggles the mind that coming at a time when Government is preaching austerity, the MPs are pulling in an opposite direction. As the officers with the responsibility of holding the executive to account, a lot better was expected from the legislators.
When President Mnangagwa took a pay cut during the 2019 Budget presentation, the message was supposed to be clear to all and sundry that the time had come for belt tightening.
If the President was able to accept a pay cut, it was incumbent upon the MPs to understand that this inceptive period of the Second Republic is not the time for clamouring for all manner of luxuries.
One shudders to think what would have happened if the cut on salary effected on the Presidium was extended to legislators!
Finance Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube has already done a lot for parliamentarians by agreeing to increase the budget for Parliament compared to last year, and that must be seen as a bold statement by Government that the MPs are not being undermined. Legislators have three obligatory roles of oversight, representation and legislation. They should make use of these roles to help the country grow the national cake and boost the economy.
Mr Mliswa must eat his latest words and be the honourable citizen that he was four years ago when he made a brilliant suggestion on parliamentary vehicles.
Perhaps as a starting point, Mr Mliswa and other honourable members can visit that brilliant suggestion of four years and push for legislation that supports local industries.
Greed will not take Zimbabwe forward.
Parliamentarians must not endeavour to amass personal wealth or use their time in Parliament as a get-rich ticket.
Members of Parliament should always take note that they are at the public’s beck and call and their calling is to serve those who voted for them.
The MPs eyes are certainly becoming bigger than their stomach and they need to be reined in before greed gets the best of them.