AN MDC-T MP has called on government to shut down parliament until it was able to fiancé legislators’ welfare, adding most of them were now living “like beggars” due to continued neglect by government.
Senator for Mutare, Keresencia Chabuka, said during last week’s sitting by the upper house most MPs from outside Harare are often stranded in city hotels for up to weeks after parliament would have adjourned because government would have failed to buy them fuel coupons.
Chabuka said by coming to Parliament, MPs were serving Zimbabweans and must be well taken care of.
“When we are coming to Parliament, we are coming to perform national duty and when we go back to our homes and constituencies people look forward to benefit from our work,” Chabuka said in a question he was directing at Vice President and leader of the House, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He continued: “As a government and as the vice president of the country, do you have a way of supporting your Members of Parliament and avoid them from coming into and staying in hotels for about two weeks?
“This is because you deny them fuel to go back to their constituencies.
“We believe that as Leader of the House and Vice President we are living like beggars; we have nothing to take back to our constituents, we have nothing to feed our families and yet we are workers.
“Therefore, I am asking that you take care of our welfare.”
Chabuka called on government to shut down parliament “until we are financially stable and we are able to pay for our welfare”.
In his response, Mnangagwa said he agreed “whole heartedly” with Chabuka.
“We agree whole heartedly with whatever the honourable Senator has raised,” Mnangagwa said.
“We have the welfare of the members of parliament at heart and we wish to support them fully in all their requirements.”
Mnangagwa said treasury had no money to implement MPs welfare programmes.
He added: “…the truth of the matter is that, as a Member Parliament, I could have raised the question on the welfare of Members of Parliament because I am also suffering.”
Local MPs have often been accused for prioritising their own welfare at the expense of those who elected them.
During the tenure of the inclusive government, some MPs were accused of embezzling government funds with which they were entrusted to finance and spearhead development initiatives in their constituencies.
However, there are concerns Parliament’s overreliance on the executive for their upkeep reduces the capacity of the powerful arm of the state to keep check on the same executive.