ABOUT 80 Zanu PF and MDC-T Members of Parliament from outside Harare yesterday claimed that they were left stranded at different hotels in the capital over the weekend after Parliament failed to supply them with fuel to enable them to drive back to their constituencies.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
The MPs, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity, said they were owed three weeks’ supply of fuel and had not received their sitting allowances since September last year.
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese confirmed the development yesterday, saying it had become a big challenge for MPs who were not financially secure to pay for their trips to attend Parliamentary sittings and committee meetings due to lack of support by the august House.
“It is true that Parliament has for the past three weeks not been giving fuel coupons to MPs and so those who have to travel outside have been using their own resources to buy fuel or have been staying at their hotels to attend the next sessions,” Gonese said.
“The situation differs with each individual MP as those in difficult circumstances get stranded at hotels and cannot go back to their families while others buy their own fuel,” he said.
Gonese said MPs had experienced the travel challenges since last year when the First Session of the Eighth Parliament resumed sitting, adding that members of his party would, however, endeavour to continue using their personal resources to ensure the work of the Legislature was carried out.
Some of the stranded MPs said supply of fuel by Parliament had been erratic since October last year.
The MPs said they had also not been paid allowances of $75 per sitting day since the First Session of the Eighth Parliament resumed sitting in September 2013.
“We have even gone to complain about this issue to Parliament’s finance director Bernard Zvamada and he said Treasury had not given the institution money and it was up to us MPs to be vocal about our problems because the situation was beyond their control,” said one MP.
He said the situation was embarrassing and disturbing especially at a time when Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had brought the Condonation Bill in the National Assembly seeking Parliament to approve the use of half a billion unbudgeted-for expenses by different ministries last year. This year Parliament was allocated $23 741 000 when the institution required $35 million.
Currently Parliament owes millions of dollars in hotel bills, sitting allowances to former and current legislators, as well as airfares and fuel allowances.
“This shows that the government is not capacitated to provide for the Legislature. While some of us are stranded at hotels, others have opted to fly on tickets which are credit facilities by airlines,” the MP said.
However, both Zanu PF chief whip Joram Gumbo and Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma said legislators from the ruling party had not approached them over the issue.
“I am not aware of the issue because MPs get their fuel coupons from Parliament administration. I have been in Mberengwa where my constituents are affected by flooding and so I do not know what is happening in Harare,” Gumbo said.
Zvoma added: “I admit Parliament has not been able to give them fuel for a certain time. We can only give those coupons, if Treasury has given us money and once we get that money we will reimburse the fuel owed.”