MPs yesterday claimed they had gone for nine months without getting their sitting allowances, which are pegged at $75 per every sitting.
by XOLISANI NCUBE
They said Parliament had also been erratic in terms of giving them their fuel allowances.
A number of legislators based in rural constituencies who spoke to NewsDay said they had now resorted to using personal funds to enable them to attend Parliament sittings as government was struggling to fund them.
Zanu PF chief whip Jorum Gumbo confirmed the development, but he blamed the problems on the economic malaise the country was in.
“I know that most MPs are in arrears in terms of allowances and fuel coupons, as well as other benefits. But, this is not peculiar to us as there are many State institutions that are faced with the same economic challenges,” Gumbo said.
“I don’t know the exact months which are in arrears because it is only known by the accounts department which is purely administrative. I also do not know the exact months which they were not paid the allowances. What I know is that MPs are owed substantial amounts in allowances and coupons,” he said.
One of the Zanu PF MPs from a rural Matabeleland constituency who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was struggling to finance his trips to Harare to attend Parliament sittings.
He said he had resorted to giving passengers lifts whenever he travelled to Harare to attend Parliament sittings in order to raise fuel money.
“If I carry six to eight people from Bulawayo to Harare, at least I will be able to get something for fuel and airtime to call back home. It’s not easy to be an MP especially when there are no resources to use,” said the lawmaker.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba said he had not received much from Parliament in the form of personal allowances or from the Constituency Development Fund, but he always visited his rural constituency using his personal resources.
“I always strive to be with my people and I do all I can to assist. If you tell the voters that you have not been paid they will not listen. So, it’s up to you as an MP to look for ways to help your constituents than to wait for Parliament money. I initiate various projects in the constituency although it is very difficult,” Chinotimba said.
MPs receive a monthly salary of approximately $1 800. In addition they get $75 for every Parliamentary sitting they attend and fuel coupons for their travelling expenses.
Gumbo said all the MPs are up to date in terms of payment of their salaries, but were in arrears with regards to allowances.
Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda confirmed that the institution owed MPs fuel coupons for last year.
“None of them is owed anything in terms of allowances because the money will go towards settling the debts they incurred when they got vehicles. But, we acknowledge that we owe them fuel coupons for last year. We have since made arrangements on how to pay them for the fuel coupons owed,” Chokuda said.