The public has reacted angrily to demands by MPs who recently said they would not pass the 2011 National Budget unless their salaries were increased from $400 to $3 000 per month.
MPs on Tuesday threatened to block the passage of the Finance (2010) Bill and Appropriation (2011) Bill demanding that Finance minister Tendai Biti should make amendments to the budget upping their salaries first.
They also demanded that the minister should raise their constituency development fund from $50 000 to $200 000 each.
Scores of readers visited the NewsDay website on Tuesday with the majority describing the MPs’ demands as “outrageous”.
“The demands are outrageous. Can they post what they have done to date in their respective constituencies?” said Chasu Maoko. “This is holding the country to ransom. Tendai (Biti), don’t give them a penny until they can wake up and explore meaningfully what they can do for the ordinary citizen.”
Wilson Svosva said the MPs were out of touch with the real challenges facing the country at this juncture.
“They are all out of their minds. Don’t they know that liquidity is a problem in Zimbabwe?” asked Svosva.
Another reader said: “We are now going to show them the exit door come election mid-next year. They know we want a new constitution which is facing financial challenges.”
“Mr (Comrade) Zhanda, you say ‘yours is an institution that carries the mandate of those that elected you’. Let me tell you now, that does not include holding the nation to ransom.”
Francis Mafuratidze said Biti had done his best in his budget allocation.
“If Zhanda (Paddy) is for the people I will request him that he supports this budget so that our country proceeds,” he said.
“I believe consultations were made in all the provinces and MPs were part of this. What a shame. But we know this may normally be the antagonism between Zanu and MDC.”
Several other readers said MPs should come with initiatives to uplift their communities instead of relying on the treasury.
They said MPs should ensure that their constituencies are well taken care of before making unreasonable demands.
“If you grab the bigger chunk where will the kids feed from? Instead of clamouring for huge salaries you should be advocating for better policies which can enlarge the cake to feed everyone,” one reader said.
“The cake is small and if we abuse it like you are advocating, we will be left with nothing. You have benefited so much through the farms, inputs, diesel, corrupt deals, preferential treatment and you still want more.
“You are there to serve the people to the extent of subsidising them if need be not to destroy their livelihood,” said another reader.
However, John Makamure, the executive director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust, said the MPs were justified in their demands.
“MPs are allowed to advocate for the improvement of their welfare,” said Makamure.
“$3 000 is not on the high side, it’s reasonable”.
He said the funds for constituency development were not meant for the MPs but for the development of constituencies they serve.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and Finance Zhanda, who is also MP for Goromonzi North (Zanu PF), told Biti on Tuesday that MPs were not going to allow the whipping system to be used on them while debating the National Budget.
He said the Executive should respect the views of MPs because the Legislature was the legislative arm of government which had the power to allow the passage of the National Budget through passing the Finance Bill and the Appropriation (2011) Bill.
“During Budget debate, it is important to note the principle of separation of powers between arms of state and to observe that the Legislature should be respected as an institution that carries the mandate of Zimbabweans who voted for them,” said Zhanda.
“We appreciate the whipping system, but it should be applicable in areas where there is difference of policy. However, when we debate matters of the budget, the whipping system should not be there.”