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MPs get windfall


The three principals in the inclusive government on Wednesday bowed down to MPs’ demands and agreed to pay a total of $3,3 million in outstanding allowances, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara revealed on Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara in October courted the ire of the legislators when they ordered that they must not be paid the allowances dating back to 2008.

The three instead approved that the MPs must start getting $75 per sitting from this month in allowances.

Angry MPs threatened to disrupt a pre-2012 budget seminar in Victoria Falls last month and last week the MPs grilled Mutambara for more than an hour about the allowances in the House of Assembly.

President Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara were last Thursday also forced to hold an emergency meeting inside Parliament after the presentation of the budget to discuss the sticky issue.

On Wednesday, Mutambara told NewsDay that he had communicated “the good news” to the legislators during a joint caucus meeting in Parliament.

Mutambara said the MPs were justified in demanding the money despite concerns that the government could not afford it.

“First and foremost, we believe in the separation of powers between the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature, and we respect the Legislature as one of the three pillars of the State,” he said.

“We must make sure that in dealing with the legislators we respect the laws of the land and natural justice, and we believe in the rule of law and observance of labour laws and the respect of the Constitution.”

Mutambara said principals had agreed that the $75 per sitting allowance must be backdated to 2008 when the MPs were elected.

“I consulted the President, Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, and the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, on this matter and they all said they had no objection to the payment of those outstanding allowances,” Mutambara said.

Last week MPs threatened to come to Parliament in casual clothes including overalls as they argued that they could not afford to take their suits to dry cleaners.

Their calls resulted in the three principals holding a lengthy meeting on Thursday last week inside Parliament Building, soon after the announcement of the 2012 National Budget.

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