….. as legislators’ welfare takes centre stage.
By Shingirai Vambe
Zimbabwe- Members of Parliament and ministers from the ruling ZANU PF who lost in the primaries shied away from parliament yesterday.
Only Buhera South MP, Joseph Chinotimba was the courageous member to walk into the house.
Meanwhile, opposition Member of Parliament, Willas Madzimure asked for the minister of Finance and Economic Development, Proff Mthuli Ncube, to come and answer if it is possible for the house to adjourn because there are no resources to cater for the 210 constituency legislators.
“Thank you, Madam Speaker, I am appealing to the Minister of Finance to come to the House and speak on the problems that this House is facing, leading it to be empty. If you look at the Bills that the President said should be dealt with, it cannot be done if the MPs cannot come to this House because of some problems we are facing. If we pass the Bill with such numbers like we have today, we are bound to be called by the Constitutional Court, Madzimure said.
The 9th Parliament has faced a myriad of challenges to proceed with its business both in the house and scheduled fact finding visits due to lack of resources. It has closed on several occasions because the Ministry of Finance failing to pay members’ accommodation.
“With this situation, I am appealing for Parliament to adjourn until the Minister of Finance, Proff Ncube, has the funds to pay for MPs’ accommodation,” said Madzimure.
He questioned how government has money for buying expensive cars and food, but when it comes to their MPs accommodation it becomes dodgy.
“I want the Minister of Finance to come and issue a statement pertaining to when he is going to fund Parliament. If it is not possible to get money for the legislature whilst the other Arms of State are getting money, Ministers are going on their trips and not one is cancelled. However, Parliament is not being funded. This can only be so if we agree that we do not have parliamentary democracy in Zimbabwe. As it is, we cannot even finish one Bill. I think Madam Speaker Ma’am, when you got in here you were also amazed by the emptiness of the House,” fumed Madzimure.
“It’s better to take a break and wait until treasury have funds. With the rising challenge of network, even here in Harare, what more of MPs coming from rural areas where it is even more difficult, for one to drive to the nearest place to access network, he or she need fuel coupons; which again are a challenge for this institution,”he added.
The deputy speaker of parliament , Tsitsi Gezi assured that the concern is being handled .
But Kuwadzana MP, Charlton Hwende queried the seriousness of parliament in addressing the sticking issue.
“If the Minister of Finance can lie that he is going to give finances to Parliament and he has not done so up to now and Parliament cannot force the Minister to honour his pledge, what about the people in the rural areas?
“The plight of MPs is that if government cannot afford to pay for their accommodation, let us go on recess until such time that the money is there. If MPs contribute on Zoom you tell them to come into the House. Network is problematic even here in Harare. We need correct and reliable responses,” added Hwende.
Legislators have accused Proff Ncube of failing to timeously and adequately fund ministries together with the Parliament of Zimbabwe for the past five years.
During the Pre-Budget Seminar, Proff Ncube promised legislators that he was going to priorities parliament business by making resources available in time for the institution to run without challenges.
Some of the members have already moved to look for accommodation in the nearby suburbs in Harare while others staying close to Harare, drive daily to and from their constituencies, so that they can attend to their business.
Meanwhile, Harare North Legislator, Rusty Markham said the nation is shocked by the silence of the government, after showcasing of the Aljazeera documentary on Gold Mafia involved in gold smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe.
Markham said the minister/s responsible must respond or at least say something on the allegation.
“My concern is that we have been definitely silent on the issues of the corruption that has been purportedly shown on the media. For example, I would immediately recommend to the Minister to call, as has been demanded by the public, for an audit or an independent investigation into Fidelity Printers and the RBZ. It is absolutely shocking that we have said and done nothing about it,” Markham said.