By Staff Reporters
OPPOSITION Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) Members of Parliament yesterday said there was nothing wrong in them accepting the US$40 000 housing loans despite criticism by their leader Nelson Chamisa who labelled them as selfish.
Addressing a Press conference in the capital yesterday, CCC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said they had benefited from such loan schemes before.
“On Tuesday, the CCC hosted a parliamentary caucus convergence in Harare to look at things affecting Zimbabwe, we discussed the much-published US$40 000 loan granted to Members of Parliament (MPs). What I want to say is that the US$40 000 loan is above board and it’s not a donation,” Mutseyami said.
“The loan is, therefore, not a surprising Executive instrument, but one that went through due process of appropriation and it’s provided for in the Constitution of the country and it’s not a donation and it is above board.”
Mutseyami said this in the presence of other CCC bigwigs such as vice-president and Harare East MP Tendai Biti as well as Mutasa Central MP Trevor Saruwaka.
“Over the years, different loans have always been provided for Parliament. Most common of these loans have been vehicle loans of US$55 000 up to US$60 000 in some cases depending on the portfolio the honourable member holds,” he said.
“Loans have always been repaid, where there have been defaults. Parliament has instituted legal proceedings and court records are public. In some cases, vehicles have been seized at tollgates like for myself, honourable Chalton Hwende and honourable Caston Matewu.
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“Some of these issues are still in court. The suggestions in some quarters that the loans are donations are not correct. In the (Finance ministry’s) mid-term supplementary budget of September 2022, a provision was made for a housing and vehicle loan of about US$40 000.”
Chamisa accused his MPs of being sellouts and of tarnishing the image of the party by accepting the loans, which he dismissed as a bribe from the ruling Zanu PF party.
“Parliament has been underfunded by the Executive and has been treated as a constitutional inconvenience by the Executive that is ... not prepared to be held to account. In a proper economy, MPs should be remunerated to enable them to carry the important task of representing citizens that they are privileged to save. Sadly, in Zimbabwe, that is not the case,” added Mutseyami.
Meanwhile, parliamentarians have called for an upward review of the parliamentary vehicle loan to US$60 000.
Government has offered a US$40 000 loan to each sitting MP, US$500 000 for individual Cabinet ministers and US$350 000 for their deputies.
In a motion on the Finance Bill, under the Parliament Budget and Finance Committee, chairperson Matthew Nyashanu said Treasury should accelerate early release of the funds.
“The committee is also recommending an upward review of the parliamentary vehicle loan scheme to an equivalent of US$60 000 per member. This programme was allocated $8,45 billion, which translates to an equivalent of US$37 177 per member,” Nyashanu said.
Nyashanu said they were not happy with the measly allocations to the Parliamentary Constituency Information Centres (PCICs) and Constituency Development Fund (CDF).
“The committee, however, notes with concern the paltry allocation for PCICs which have been allocated $100 million in 2023. The committee also notes the allocation of $4,8 billion for CDF, which translates to $22,9 million (US$35 197) per constituency, which falls short of a minimum requirement of US$50 000 if meaningful projects are to be implemented in the constituencies.”