via Clerk of Parliament blocking debate on salarygate | SW Radio Africa by Tichaona Sibanda on Friday, February 28, 2014
Long serving clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma is reportedly frustrating attempts by parliamentarians from both sides of the House from debating the ‘salarygate’ scandal, amid allegations he may be earning an obscene salary himself.
MPs who spoke to SW Radio Africa on Friday are enraged that a motion debated on Thursday, on the high compensation for senior management at parastatals, was watered down by Zvoma.
During the debate it was also disclosed by the MDC-T MP for Mbizo in KweKwe, Settlement Chikwinya, that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner-general Gershem Pasi earns $310,000 per month.
Chikwinya said that several issues that were to be debated on the salarygate scandal were deleted by Zvoma, who has a final say on motions to be discussed in Parliament. One of the major issues removed from the order paper was a request that all parastatals present their salary schedules to Parliament by 30th March.
The legislators also wanted Zvoma to present a salary structure of Parliament’s administrators, by the end of May. But these requests were omitted from Thursday’s order paper, igniting suspicions that he was trying to hide something.
‘For all we know, Zvoma may be earning the same salary as the parastatal bosses. Whenever there is debate on the salarygate since it broke late last year, there seems to be suppression of debate or lack of will to provide evidence as requested by MP’s,’ another legislator said.
The MPs suspicions about Zvoma stem from the fact that whenever a portfolio committee from Parliament travels outside Zimbabwe, the clerk always accompanies that group, travelling in first class, while MPs use the economy seats.
When it comes to accommodation, Zvoma always uses executive suites and legislators standard rooms. This has not gone unnoticed and the MPs now want a probe into the finances of Parliament’s administration.
‘Zvoma is just an appointed executive member of the House of Assembly and we are elected members of the House and he gets special treatment compared to us. It means something is terribly wrong with the system and this needs to be investigated as a matter of urgency,’ an MDC-T MP added.
Meanwhile, MPs have demanded to know how Communication Technology Minister Webster Shamu acquired a top-of-the-range Toyota Land Cruiser VX8 vehicle from suspended Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation boss Happison Muchechetere.
The vehicle, meant for the ZBC and facilitated through a loan that provided funds for an outside broadcast van from China, ended up in the hands of Shamu.
During his tenure as Information Minister Shamu, a close colleague of Muchechetere from their liberation war days, was in charge of the ZBC.
It is believed several ministers benefitted, especially in procurement where they either received kickbacks or connived with CEOs to give them vehicles and buy them houses.
Charlton Hwende, a businessman and MDC-T politician, said it has never been ZANU PF’s intention to stop or prosecute corrupt officials because the party itself is enmeshed in a web of corruption.
‘With the amount of corruption that has so far been exposed, you wonder why nobody has been questioned let alone arrested for graft. It tells you they are not interested to probe further because it will expose the whole system, which is controlled by ZANU PF,’ Hwende said.