HARARE – Zanu PF Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka has asked Parliament to give rural legislators at least two cars, arguing that most of the lawmakers become destitute following expiry of their terms.
The former police spokesperson said the welfare of parliamentarians “must be taken seriously”.
He told the House of Assembly last week that “… members who represent constituencies deep down in the rural areas and, I am one of them . . . have bad roads to the extent that at the expiry of the five year term, I will be having no Ford Ranger at all”.
“We cannot be destitute after leaving this Parliament. So we pray that the budget for this august House is going to be raised so that we are catered for,” Mandipaka said.
“So all it means is that if perhaps we get two or more vehicles, we will be able to access rugged terrains,” he said.
Currently, Parliament gives MPs a choice of one off-road vehicle between a Ford Everest and a Ranger.
Mandipaka’s demands come as Parliament filed summons against six former legislators who left without servicing their vehicle loans.
Former Zanu PF chief whip, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Mwenezi East) and ex-Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire (Masvingo Central), are among those targeted for the action.
In summons filed at the High Court last month, Parliament seeks to recover a total of $258 809 in unpaid vehicle loans advanced to the legislators during their terms of office.
MPs earn $800 and have a sitting allowance of $75.
“After the expiry of five years, perhaps I might not be coming back into Parliament, I will be able to look good to the constituents, look good to the people, because we want to continue portraying a positive image of the Parliament,” he said.
Mandipaka said parliamentarians should this year get their Constituency Development Funds (CDF) — a cash pay-out aimed at the promotion of community-driven development.
In his 2017 National Budget, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa reinstated a $50 000 vote for each constituency, saying the cash would be allocated under Parliament pending the promulgation of the necessary legislation to govern the fund.
The paucity of the regulation framework of the fund — first introduced during the fragile inclusive government and suspended in 2013 — was the reason why the fund was held in abeyance for all these years.
Some unscrupulous MPs across the political divide took advantage of the regulatory loopholes in the fund to pillage the CDF, which they converted to their own use.
“I pray that for this financial year, MPs should get their CDF. Why do I say so?
“The impression that is created by people who we represent is that we have everything. Even the budget, they think it is within our control.
“So in other words, I am supporting the debate by (Mabvuku Tafara MDFC MP James) Maridadi that the welfare of MPs should be taken seriously, especially this financial year because it is important for MPs to be catered for so that they discharge their duties in earnest.”
Mandipaka said there was an impression created that Parliament was less important than the executive.
“That is a misnomer. I want to strongly believe that what the executive does, what the Judiciary does and what Parliament does, these things are equally very important for the smooth running of the nation and so when it comes to the welfare of members of this august House, we want to seriously take a re-look and say, are we giving enough to members for their sustenance?” he asked.
“Are we providing enough for honourable members so that they are able to conduct their day-to-day duties in various constituencies?”