Copac battles to sort out allowances


Members of the Constitutional Select Committee (Copac) were last night frantically trying to sort out the contentious issue of allowances for MPs who are demanding more money for leading the Constitutional outreach programme expected to be launched today.
Chairperson for the Parliamentary Welfare Committee Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Zanu PF) said last night that MPs expected the country’s three principals to announce the outcome of the allowances issue when they officially launch the outreach programme in Harare this afternoon.
His MDC-T counterpart Gift Chimanikire concurred and said although they had not given pre-conditions for participating in the outreach programme, they were demanding to be paid $75 a day and not $25 that Copac had offered them. “I understand members of the management committee are meeting right now to deal with that matter,” Bhasikiti said. “We agreed at a joint parliamentary caucus last week to send our allowance grievance to the principals and we expect to get a response at the launch tomorrow. That is why the management committee is meeting tonight.” Members of the management committee include all the negotiators from the three political parties, the three co-chairpersons of Copac and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs. Chimanikire said Zimbabweans should not regard MPs as greedy people because it did not make sense to send people of their calibre out; away from their homes and constituencies for three months at $25 per day.
“The problem is this pseudo-gathering calling themselves the management committee which is seeking to undermine MPs and are being arrogant about it,” Chimanikire said. “ We mandated them to take our request for sitting allowances of $75 to the President in May last year but apparently they are lying to us that the President has not yet signed the document, because we hear the President never received our request.”
He said the $25 that had been suggested was an insult because it would not be able to cover the MPs’ meals and incidentals.
“Given our pitiful monthly salaries of $300 per month, they are sentencing our families to starvation,” said Chimanikire.
“We are being made to work under intolerable conditions but we will remain patriotic.”