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MPs blast foreign trips expenditure

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Angry Members of Parliament Friday blasted government for its extravagant expenditure on foreign trips while civil servants and MPs remained poorly paid.

Parliamentarians from both Zanu PF and MDC spoke with one voice, as they contributed to a motion by Mwenezi East MP, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti on the welfare of MPs, civil servants and government ministries, which he presented soon after the budget statement by the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti.

Biti had told Parliament that government should be cautious about overspending on foreign trips as it had gobbled up $29,2 million in 2010.

MPs want a budget of $12 million for their salaries, which would see them earning $3 000 per month.

Goromonzi North MP, Paddy Zhanda, (Zanu PF) questioned the composition of the Parliament Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC) which decides on the welfare of MPs and said it was composed of the Executive who did not really care about MPs.

“Madam Speaker, the issue of our welfare being at the mercy of the executive is very wrong,” said Zhanda.

“We (MPs) have no say and do not attend any committees of the Executive, and for the executive to come and attend committees of Parliament and preside over our own welfare is very wrong.”

Zhanda said the State should pay for the vehicles that were given to MPs.

“We must put it on record that those vehicles that we were given – we do not owe anybody any money at all.

“Those vehicles are working on behalf of the State and therefore, the State will have to pay for them,” he said.

Uzumba MP, Simbaneuta Mudarikwa (Zanu PF) said the country was creating professional thieves and discrediting government by underpaying civil servants.

Buhera Central MP, Tangwara Matimba (MDC-T) said it was wrong for a country which said it was under sanctions to gobble up $29,2 million on foreign trips.

Harrison Mudzuri, the MDC-T MP for Zaka Central likened the work of MPs as to a pot which is used to cook but does not enjoy what was being cooked in it.

Kuwadzana MP, Lucia Matibenga urged government to put priorities on important issues.

“What comes first – paying our civil servants, or having so many diplomatic missions, or so many trips to travel abroad to do diplomacy?

“Do you do diplomacy while your kids are starving?” asked Matibenga.

Mbizo MP, Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) said it did not make sense that $29,2 million had been gobbled up in foreign travel by the executive.

“If you divide $29,2 million among 31 ministries you will find that almost every ministry gobbled $1 million in foreign travel alone,” said Chikwinya.

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