MORALE among Zimbabwe’s parliamentarians has reportedly hit rock bottom as they have not yet received their sitting allowances and fuel allocations since the start of their new term of office in August.
MPs and Senators who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said there was a crisis in Parliament as they had gone for months without fuel coupons while those who were in the last (Seventh) Parliament were still owed.
Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo confirmed the development.
“It’s true, there is nothing,” Gumbo said.
“MPs have gone for three months without getting anything, but it’s being worked on. People have to be patient because there was a delay in the setting up of government and the new ministers have to familiarise with operations.”
Gumbo added: “MPs are aware we had a budget seminar in Victoria Falls where the minister (of Finance Patrick Chinamasa) explained and pleaded for patience.
He even said because of the challenges, he might not even bring the budget to Parliament this year, but probably early next year. I am aware of the arrears in fuel and allowances even those from the Seventh Parliament are still owed.”
A Harare MDC-T MP who requested not to be named said: “There is no fuel and we can’t even talk of allowances. For Harare MPs we have to get about 20 litres a day from Monday to Thursday. I can’t even remember when I last got mine.”
Parliament still owes an estimated $750 000 in hotel bills from the previous session. Legislators from the previous Parliament were also owed sitting allowances ranging between $10 000 and $20 000 each depending on attendances, accrued from 2009. The allowance was pegged at $75 a sitting.
“There is no budget, that’s why they bought Isuzu vehicles for everybody; we hear there was a tender on that for the number of MPs. Who told them we need those Isuzu cars? We have Isuzu’s already, we need something else,” another MP who claimed he was still owed money from the previous Parliament said.
An MP from the Midlands province said: “It’s very difficult to work. It’s extremely tough to work as an MP now. Another problem is that there are partners who used to help us even to finance committees for capacity building. Parliament dropped that and up to now, no capacity building has taken place in committees because there is no money.”
MPs who attended a parliamentary workshop on HIV and Aids in Bulawayo recently protested after they got only $100 for fuel after driving from different parts of the country.
“We are at zero. No coupons, no allowances. Some outstanding from last year and some are failing to attend Parliament. That’s why despite the house being small, it doesn’t seem to be a problem because we are hardly half the membership. New legislators without cars are finding it tough to attend,” another MP added.
But Gumbo said MPs must be patient.
On the vehicles for MPs, Gumbo said: “There are no cars yet for MPs. All we have been reading about the cars is hogwash. There is a vehicle scheme where the Ministry of Finance put money in that revolving fund and members borrow and buy cars of their choice. They pay for those cars and what happened last time where the minister bought cars for MPs was irregular.”
Efforts to contact MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese were fruitless as his phone went unanswered.