via MPs press for pay hike – DailyNews Live Farayi Machamire • 23 March 2016
HARARE – In an unprecedented move, both Zanu PF and MDC MPs are demanding another bumper pay rise at a time the economy is teetering on the brink of collapse, the Daily News can reveal.
The revelation will spark renewed uproar, as the rest of the austerity-hit nation continues to endure flat wages.
The MPs have tabled a motion in Parliament demanding a hike in the basic wage of all members to a new high.
The MPs agreed the figure in a meeting two weeks ago but refuse to publicly confirm it.
The MPs demanded improved conditions of service arguing they are being treated as second fiddle to the judiciary and executive arms of government.
While the perennial rivals have constantly failed to find common ground, money has somehow found a way to bring the old-age enemies together.
“We share the same sentiments,” Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip Lovemore Matuke told the Daily News yesterday.
“Ministers get a free vehicle from Parliament and two more from the ministry. Many people think MPs get free vehicles, they don’t.
“The vehicles you see them driving, they buy them, Parliament just facilitates. And these vehicles are meant to service constituencies.
“Not that MPs want to cause commotion but (we are) just raising alarm ‘why don’t you treat us like our brothers?’”
Pressed on how much “increase” the Members of Parliament were demanding, the Gutu Central MP kept his cards close to his chest, simply saying MPs “want uniformity”.
The lawmakers are also irritated that promises made to establish a properly regulated Constituency Development Fund (CDF) have not been honoured.
The CDF was last operational during the inclusive government when the then Finance minister Tendai Biti allocated $50 000 to each MP to finance development projects in their constituencies.
There were reports that some of the MPs mismanaged the funds.
The current crop of MPs has also raised alarm over outstanding allowances and fuel.
Their demands come as civil servants are struggling to make ends meet, put food on their table and send their children to school owing to meagre salaries whose pay dates are constantly changed.
MPs, who are believed to take home a monthly salary in the region of $2 500, said it is common knowledge that the national coffers were empty, but said the lawmakers have a right to table the demands.
“Every employee should be paid his dues but the point is, as much as we need the money, we also look at the problems at the nation,” Matuke said.
MDC parliamentary chief whip Innocent Gonese said opposition legislators were not happy with the way they were being treated. He said the Constitution requires that government ensures that adequate funds are provided to Parliament to enable it to carry out its duties.
“Obviously, as Members of Parliament, we have misgivings about the disparities existing between the three arms of government,” Gonese said.
“It’s not only monetary but it’s about being able to carry out our duties effectively. We feel they should be a balance so that when Members of Parliament go back to their constituencies, they can perform better.”
The MDC secretary for legal and parliamentary affairs said money owed to MPs was hefty.
“Some of the figures we don’t even know because there has been weeks without getting fuel. But we will continue doing our work. We were elected to represent the people,” he said.
The welfare of MPS, which has been topical since taking centre stage in one of the plenary sessions in the National Assembly earlier this month, has been met with mixed reactions from analysts and critics alike.