SPEAKER of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda and Finance minister Ignatius Chombo yesterday quelled a chaotic situation where MPs were refusing to co-operate during a pre-budget seminar, while demanding payment of their outstanding allowances and Constituency Development Fund allocations.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Mudenda, who had been away on leave, quickly returned to address MPs gathered at a Harare lodge, telling them that it was with a heavy heart that he heard about the disturbances at Parliament.
In attendance was Chombo, after MPs on Thursday demanded audience with him over the issue.
“It is with a heavy heart because of the responsibilities we find ourselves in. As human beings we have the capacity to solve whatever problems are affecting us provided we put our minds together, and I say this in the presence of Chombo — and I have a good working relationship with him and I am confident he is going to deliver,” Mudenda said.
Mabvuku-Tafara MP James Maridadi suggested that delegates at the pre-budget seminar who were not legislators should be excused to allow the issue to be discussed in privacy.
Journalists and specialists in budget issues who had come to make presentations to MPs, were asked to go out for almost three hours as Mudenda and Chombo discussed the problems of MPs, who called themselves “the ugly cousins of the Judiciary and Executive”.
During the closed-door discussions some emotional MPs could be clearly heard demanding the same treatment given to the Judiciary and Executive.
Some demanded that MPs must also have security personnel, and that the Speaker must move with a motorcade, allowances and diplomatic passports.
After the closed-door discussions, the about 150 MPs present could be seen smiling and ready to take part in the pre-budget discussions.
Mudenda later told journalists that the issues had been resolved saying it was imperative for MPs to ensure they pass the 2018 budget for Parliament which is not “thin” so that it adequately caters for their concerns.
“The ball is in their court. They are raising issues at the end of the 5th Session of the 8th Parliament, which issues should have been raised since 2013. I believe they should be able to get their I-pads soon,” he said.
Mudenda said MPs were owed $15 million in sitting allowances, adding Parliament owed service providers like hotels over $3 million.