Former Cabinet ministers, mostly from the MDC-T, have allegedly fallen on hard times amid reports that they have started vacating government-rented houses which they used as their official residences.
BY MOSES MATENGA
Treasury has stopped paying rentals for former government officials who were living in rented houses in the capital.
Most of the affected former ministers and their deputies come from outside Harare and had needed government accommodation in the capital. The officials also had other benefits such as housemaids, personal aides and drivers withdrawn as were other perks like school fees.
Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Killian Mpingo said by law, those that were benefiting from State property for the discharge of State functions had them withdrawn once they left office.
“What it means is that all those who occupied government property did so while they were discharging State duties. After that, they can’t. That is the qualification for one to get State accommodation,” Mpingo said.
He would, however, not give the number of those who had been affected.
Former Higher and Tertiary Education deputy minister Lutho Tapela (MDC) confirmed to NewsDay that he had left the spacious Greenwood house where government was paying $1 000 a month in rentals and had since relocated to his Plumtree home.
“I moved out at the end of August and now I am at my house in Plumtree,” he said.
Former Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo also confirmed that government had stopped paying for the State-rented house he occupied in Harare.
“We were renting the houses and government was paying. There is a period that you are allowed to wind up, but you can continue to stay there if you can afford the rentals, depending, of course, on your agreement with the landlord,” he said.
Sources yesterday said other ministers that had since left government-rented houses included former Deputy Prime Minister and MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe and former Local Government deputy minister Sesel Zvidzai.
A senior official in the MDC-T who was a minister in the inclusive government yesterday said some of his fellow former ministers had fallen on hard times after their departure from government.
He said such officials had failed to prepare for rainy days and were now near destitutes.
“I was surprised a former minister asked me for a laughable amount of money. The problem is that people don’t plan for life after politics or government. It’s back to reality for some of us,” the former minister, who declined to be named, said.
It is still not clear, however, what decision would stand as regards the Highlands house built for former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Senior government officials have, however, indicated the former Premier would be given the first offer to buy the house.