Members of Parliament have threatened to demand compensation if their five-year terms were cut short in the event of elections being held next year instead of the statutory 2013.
President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe would go to elections in 2011 because he cannot stand the inclusive government any longer.
Goromonzi North MP, Paddy Zhanda of Zanu PF, this week told the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, that MPs serving in the current Parliament had been unfairly treated through the meagre salaries and allowances they received and would demand compensation should their terms of office be cut by early elections.
Legislators are also owed a lot of money in terms of sitting allowances by Parliament, which has been unable to pay them due to budgetary constraints.
“If elections are called for next year, we will demand compensation on lost and potential revenue for the two-and- a-half years remaining on our terms,” said Zhanda.
“If you do not address the issue of salaries for people in higher offices, the country will not be able to effectively deal with the problem of corruption.”
Zhanda was speaking on behalf of members of the budget and finance committee.
He said if people in high positions such as MPs and ministers were poorly paid, they would be exposed to corruption.
“There is no doubt corruption in this country is most rampant in high offices and so the question of the welfare of MPs should feature very prominently in the 2011 budget,” Zhanda said.
The Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance was appraising Biti on suggestions from members of the public on the forthcoming budget.
Zhanda’s committee conducted consultative budget meetings with members of the public throughout the country.
“We can all end up in jail if we were to be asked how we managed to live on $400 salaries per month.
Even former ministers have ended up being given pauper’s burials due to these small salaries and it is not proper,” he said.
He said the gospel that was constantly preached that this country was poor was not an excuse for reducing honourable members to paupers.
Biti however insisted there was very little he could do because the fiscal space in the country was limited.
“The fiscal space is very limited.
In the consultations we did in Bindura people wanted us to complete dams, build universities, and so on.
You find that in one province people want a budget of $8 billion and so there are huge expectations,” said Biti.