A battle is looming between legislators and principals in the unity government after Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo vowed to challenge the decision to block MPs’ allowances dating back to 2008. President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara last week blocked the payment of the outstanding allowances.
The MPs will now get allowances only as of this month, a move that has infuriated legislators who say they cannot be expected to subisidise the State.
MPs had threatened to disrupt the ongoing pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls, but Moyo’s pledge appeared to have calmed them for now.
Moyo said government officials had blocked the awarding of legislators allowances since 2008, a situation that was making the MPs’ work difficult.
“While we welcome this decision (to pay sitting allowances), it is sad to note that the leadership of government decided not to backdate the allowances,” Moyo said.
“It is known that since August 2008, MPs have made personal and financial sacrifices in their parliamentary duties, literally subsidising the government.
“For this reason, we will continue to engage the government leadership on this matter as I strongly feel that the MPs deserve what is due to them,” Moyo said.
A number of MPs said the decision by the principals was ill-advised and demanded that it be reversed.
“This should be revisited with urgency as it appears we are now subsidising government and it’s affecting our operations negatively,” said Albert Mhlanga, MDC-T legislator for Pumula.
MPs from the three parties have set aside their political differences to fight for the allowances, which government had promised would be paid soon.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga had said calculations were already being made on what individual MPs were owed before the payments were processed. MPs were expected to get $75 per sitting.
Meanwhile, Moyo has bemoaned the underfunding of Parliament by the inclusive government, saying budgetary cuts had seriously hampered operations of the House of Assembly.