POLITICS cost money. Sometimes democracy comes at a premium but constitutional and contractual obligations have to be met. Whichever way, money is central in politics. Zimbabwe’s old-school political Machiavellians have mastered this art. They use money for political expediency. Blended with canny, swanky and financial mathematicians from Oxford and other Ivy League universities, the Zanu PF old guard, have once again, adopted unorthodox means of political survival.
The US$40 000 housing loans which will cumulatively chew US$14 million of taxpayers’ money, is part of a grand scheme to build patronage networks. This is regardless of political fault lines. Apart from the MPs, ministers and their deputies are due to receive a hefty US$500 000 and US$350 000 each, respectively, in housing loans. That’s a significant amount.
But who cares about the high cost of taxpayers financing luxury for politicians. Some MPs have described the parliamentary loans as pittances, only enough to buy a high density home but in an ailing economy, US$14 million can be used to improve service delivery. The MPs are at the tail-end of their terms, anyway, with approximately less than eight months to go. It’s not a secret that government is cash-strapped. Internal and external debts amount to about US$18 billion. Clearing arrears to international financiers has been a nightmare. Under these circumstances, why use the scarce resources to pamper ministers and MPs with housing loans at a high cost. It boggles the mind.
Yes, politicians deserve to be treated with dignity. MPs are ambassadors of their constituencies and it’s improper for the legislators to wallow in poverty. The housing scheme can be legally and politically right. On the flipside, it’s undeniably morally wrong. In the court of the public eye, the government has already been judged and found guilty. The reason it is being challengedis related to poor infrastructure, lack of sufficient medical equipment and facilities. The civil servants salaries are low. Pensions are pathetic; as after serving the government for 40 years, a teacher may get ZW$100 000 (about US$140). What a travesty! This is why there is brouhaha about loans. The cry for Zimbabweans is for equity; the scarce resources must be shared relatively equally. Widening the inequality gap is an injustice. Remember these downtrodden are the voters come 2023; at least improve service delivery, which adds value to their living standards.
It has been excruciating decades of economic turmoil locked in a complicated political matrix. This generation and others to come shall live to witness the nexus between the loans, politics and corruption in Zimbabwe’s governance system.