The Speaker of the House of Assembly Lovemore Moyo has written to President Robert Mugabe seeking a review of conditions of service for MPs amid reports that they have never been paid sitting allowances since assuming office in 2008.
Moyo revealed this when he officially opened Parliament’s Liaison and Coordination Committee two-day retreat on Friday. He said MPs were owed over $400 000 in unpaid allowances prompting them to accuse government of “sabotage”.
“I must say that amongst many issues dealt with at last year’s retreat, matters pertaining to conditions of service of MPs and staff were at the forefront,” he said.
“As presiding officers we have written to His Excellency the President advising of the need to review remuneration of MPs and their attendant conditions of service. We have also taken the staff concerns to the Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) where adjustments have been discussed and agreed pending the availability of resources. We remain committed to pursuing the conditions of service issues until they are resolved.”
In an interview, Moyo explained that MPs were getting $400 per month as salaries but have not been receiving other benefits such as travel and subsistence allowances as well as sitting allowances since 2008 when they were sworn into Parliament.
“They are not being paid for the wear and tear of their vehicles and are not getting sitting allowances,” he said. “We have recommended to President Mugabe that MPs should be given sitting allowances of $70 per sitting, be it in Parliament or at committee meetings.”
Speaking at the same occasion, one of the MPs, Paddy Zhanda, lamented the marginalisation of MPs by the Executive. He said MPs were now “subsidising government” as they were pursuing parliamentary duties using their own funds.
“Zimbabwean MPs have lost their dignity,” fumed Zhanda. “When we travel to meetings in the region our counterparts say, ‘Don’t worry we will pay for your drinks because we know that Zimbabwean MPs are poorly paid”’.
“MPs in Kenya, for instance, receive salaries and allowances of up to $16 000 per month,” Zhanda said.
In response to concerns by the Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma that some portfolio committees made “ridiculous” requests for trips outside the country.
“By making requests of astronomical amounts for such trips they would be hoping to make money through allowances,” said Zhanda.
The MPs, including Moyo, also queried the composition of the SROC which they said had too many government representatives.
Government officials in SROC include Vice President Joice Mujuru, the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Eric Matinenga and the Minister of Industry and International Trade Welshman Ncube.
Moyo said the ministers would obviously defend government interests during SROC meetings instead of advancing the interests of Parliament.