NORTON MP, Temba Mliswa (independent) yesterday castigated First Lady Grace Mugabe over her alleged extravagant lifestyle, including buying a $1,35 million diamond ring at a time the economy was on its knees and most Zimbabweans were surviving on $1 per day.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Mliswa raised the issue during debate on the Second Reading Stage of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill on bond notes, where he said the Executive must deal with corruption and profligacy.
“We must deal with corruption and extravagance in this country by the Executive because we cannot have a First Lady, who orders a $1,5m ring by externalising foreign currency when there is no money in the country,” he said.
“In my constituency, people have no money and have no access to (medical) drugs and we cannot have an Executive that is corrupt and extravagant, buying very expensive rings when people are suffering,” he said before Acting President Phelekezela Mphoko and Acting Speaker, Reuben Marumahoko, sprang to Grace’s defence, saying it was unfair for Mliswa to attack her on the basis of unsubstantiated media reports and on a platform where the First Lady was not able to defend herself.
But, Mliswa refused to be cowed, continuing: “Even the Acting President has no right to stop me from debating in this House. There has got to be financial discipline in terms of expenditure by the Executive and it must be guided by the fact that we do not have enough foreign currency for them to go for luxurious trips. The Finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) must begin to give the Executive their travelling allowances in bond notes instead of foreign currency when they travel outside the country.”
Meanwhile, opposition legislators blamed the Zanu PF conference held last December for delaying passage of the Bills.
“As a matter of principle, this is not good practice because towards the end of last year, we had ample time to debate the budget, and we said all political parties must not schedule their conferences during the end of the year, when we should be dealing with important matters like passing of the budget,” MDC-T chief whip, Innocent Gonese said.
This was after Chinamasa proposed suspension of provisions of standing order 51 regarding the automatic adjournment of the House to Thursday and 12:35pm on Fridays in order to allow Parliament to exhaustively debate the budgetary Bills and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill.
Effectively, it would mean Parliament can sit the whole night in order to timeously conclude debate on the budget before January 31.
Chinamasa assured MPs that they would not be rushed to pass the two Bills.