HARARE – In one of its rare sittings, last week legislators held a marathon 12-hour National Budget debate on Thursday as they could only adjourn sitting early Friday morning.
The National Assembly usually starts around 14:00 hours before adjourning around 17:00 hours but for Thursday it was business unusual as the august house adjourned around 01:30 early Friday morning.
MDC chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said legislators united to pass the budget. “That was clear sacrifice and the spirit to pass the budget was unique, that spirit was really patriotic.”
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi also hailed MPs for their effort. “I want to thank the … members for staying up until 1am so that we consider matters of our budget.
“I really appreciate the effort that has been put in debating and the robust debate that we had today. It is much appreciated. I want to thank everyone and I want to wish all…a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year,” Ziyambi said.
However, it is not the first time for the Parliament to debate up to midnight as in early 2000 then legislators did the same debating the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
Meanwhile, legislators from across the political divide spent much of the debate on Thursday demanding the government to improve their welfare which forced the Finance minister, Mtuli Ncube to increase the Parliament budget from $101 million to $145 million.
Legislators made outrageous demands which include top-of-the-range cars (V8 Toyota), gym at the Parliament premises, improved diet and upward review of their allowance among others.
Some of the legislators who were vocal during the debate include Norton Independent MP Temba Mliswa, Zanu PF Wedza North MP David Musabayana and MDC Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya.
At one time the Parliament was forced to adjourn for 30 minutes as MPs demanded to have a joint caucus to agree the way forward.
After the adjournment Ncube proposed to increase the budget to $120 million, however, the legislators rejected the proposal and threatened to sink the budget.
“This budget can be approved somewhere not in this house,” MDC Binga North Prince Dubeko Sibanda said in protest.
After growing pressure from parliamentarians Mthuli then increased the budget to $145 million.
“I propose to increase the vote for Parliament to $145 million,” Mthuli said to which the legislators broke into song clapping hands celebrating.