Sitting allowances: MPs sold a dummy again

By Daniel Chigundu

Parliament of Zimbabwe has failed to honour its promises made to legislators two weeks ago with regards to payment of outstanding sitting allowances and Ipads.

Speaker of National Assembly Jacob Mudenda had promised that the legislators would have received their outstanding dues by the 31st of October this year, however, the allowances are yet to be paid.

Asked about the issues in the National Assembly by Musikavanhu legislator Prosper Mutseyami, Honourable Mudenda said the issues had been addressed and legislators were going to receive letters of confirmation of the transactions in their pigeonholes.

However, Zvishavane-Ngezi legislator John Holder expressed disappointment with the contents of the letter, adding that it was not addressing the concerns that had been raised by legislators.

“My point of order is on a privilege matter Mr Speaker Sir. I note that I thanked the Speaker for nothing. We have received this circular but it does not address the issues we are talking about.

“I find it unfair to be given a letter which does not address our issues which we actually complained about. I do not even know why we are sitting in here.

“We would rather adjourn and go home until these things are dealt with,” he said.

Although the legislators were unwilling to reveal the contents of the letters to the media, speculation has it that the allowances, Ipads and housing stands that had been promised the end of October have now been earmarked for the end of November.

With regards to the housing stands, the Ministry of Finance is reportedly in talks with the Ministry of Local Government over the issue and there is no agreement yet.

The issue of sitting allowances has taken centre in the past month and has disrupted Housing sittings and debating of motions on the order papers.

The 350 legislators are reportedly owed a combined US$15 million in unpaid sitting allowances dating back to as far as 2013 when they came into office and their term is nearing its end.

Legislators get a monthly salary of US$2 000 and a sitting allowance of US$75 each day when Parliament is sitting.

According to the Speaker, it has been agreed with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing that legislators will not pay for the land (housing stands) value but only pay for the servicing of the stands, so as to help bring down the cost of the stands.

Meanwhile, Treasury has marshalled in US$5 million for the constituency development fund (CDF) which should begin to flow into the various accounts provided and also if legislators appoint a committee to take care of the funds.

However, for the funds to start flowing Parliament needs to adopt a constitution of the fund, detailing the modalities of the fund and all other related issues.

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