By Shingirai Vambe
A sizeable number of Members of Parliament were left stranded after hotels booted them out for none payment of bills.
The reality of the previously debated late disbursements of funds from Ministry of Finance resulted in legislators being sent packing out of Harare hotels.
The MPs were stranded as they left without fuel coupons too last week.
The situation was so desperate and embarrassing with some milling outside Parliament building way after normal business of the House.
Outspoken, Norton member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa came out guns blazing during the 2021-2022 budget proposal last year, accusing the Minister of Finance, Prof Mthuli Ncube of delaying and poorly disbursing funds to line ministries.
During the recent supplementary budget, a majority of the ministries, including Parliament, had only received 30 percent of their allocated funds.
Legislators from all the political parties, including the ruling Zanu PF party left the house disgruntled and asked Prof Ncube why he was destroying their welfare. The Members of Parliament failed to execute their mandated duties.
Legislators who spoke to Post On Sunday Newspaper said resources, funds to be more précises, are the major reasons why the 9th Parliament has had several adjournments, because the Finance Ministry doesn’t have enough money for fuel and accommodation for Parliamentarians. It only appears on paper and in Mthuli’s speeches. Reality on the ground was direct opposite.
Analysts who commented on the current development also castigated the statement and measures by the Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary, George Guvamatanga on the payments being done using parallel exchange rates.
Guvamatanga said it was government parastatals pushing the parallel market exchange rate through payments of goods and services and that has resulted in barring of payments of invoices dated July 31 2022 to date.
Buhera South legislator, Joseph Chinotimba queried why parliament can’t have its own facilities to accommodate MPs like what is done in other regional countries like South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.
Last week, hotels in Harare resorted to reducing numbers of MPs checking in while at the Meikles Hotel, one legislator was told not come back next week.
Makoni Central MP, David Tekeshe, rasied the issue in Parliament, and told the Speaker that he received phone calls from other MPs being chased away from the hotel and it is very embarrassing to be turned away from one hotel to the other.
MPs met with the Government Chief Whip, Pupurai Togarepi, however, nothing positive came after the meeting. Only war of words flew across the political divide, with some seen loitering at Parliament building on Friday afternoon, waiting for fuel coupons as they could not make their trips back to their homes.
Mps were later given cash to purchase fuel for their return trips back to their respective constituencies.
MPs who went for bench making to Uganda told this publication that, “We are Living in 2 different worlds”, with some resorting to drive every day to Harare if the situation persists.
With preparations to move to the new Parliament building now at 90%, with the current situation of scarce resources, it will be difficult to drive to and from Parliament every day for most.
It was during the budget proposal in Victoria Falls, when chief Fortune Charumbirai told ministers, Parliament and legislators that Zimbabwe was the worst country when it comes to the welfare of MPs. He actually said it was on top of the list in Africa.
Due to many adjournments, lots of Parliament business is still pending including Bills which are yet to be tabled.
A question posed that if the situation was dire with legislators, what was it to be Parliament staff and how citizens are also making it at the end of every day?
With a lot of pending Bills, does the community worry about someone’s educational credentials?
However, the parliamentary seat has become an employment carrier for many to get cars and allowances without an evaluation scorecard for the term served?
Citizens, regardless of the tax payers money being used for the welfare of MPs, gave failed to decisively deal with legislators, even to ask if their needs were met or they simply choose someone on popularity and rally talk?
Majority have come out clean and said they don’t understand how parliament works, duties if an MP, the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the budget meetings they pass, it is rubber stamping?
This is the same scenario with so. Legislators who cry for hotel stays, coupons and travels?
As Mliswa has said, the blame comes back to the electorate, get representation and leadership that you deserve, he said.
It’s high time citizens vote for competent representation not based on party lines. Currently, he is the only independent candidate who sits in the August House.
Chairperson of the African Parliamentary Network Against Corruption and he delivers because he understands the business of the House.
The recently announced hike in registration fees for the Harmonised Polls is a major draw back. It makes the playing field uneven.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ridiculously increased fees for Presidential candidates, MPs, Councillors and Observers, a move that Pro Lovemore Madhuku said was undemocratic and unconstitutional.
This will see less Presidential and MP candidates going for campaigns when the media will not fully cover the 2023 election.
Earlier the previous fees were argued saying they were prohibitive for the media to observe the elections, instead of scrapping the fee, it increased with 1000%.
The current fees for aspiring presidential candidates are now US$20 000, US$1000 for MPs and Councillors and US $100 for observers including the media.
Meanwhile, MDC Senator for Chikomo, Hon Morgan Femai is reportedly ill, after suffering a stroke early this year and was admitted in hospital.
To date, Femai hasn’t received his Parliamentary vehicle which was purchased in his name and was never delivered.
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