HARARE – Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa says government will in future give legislators free vehicles during their five-year tenures, departing from the current regime where members of Parliament pay for vehicles through their sitting allowances.
This would apparently apply for the ninth Parliament to be ushered in after the impending general elections to be held within the next four or five months.
Speaking in the National Assembly during the national budget debate last week, Chinamasa said he will change the Parliamentary Car Scheme to allow MPs to get vehicles for free.
In addition, government will give a duty free certificate for legislators to acquire a second vehicle.
“With respect to Parliament budget, I have had to personally look into those issues and I want to give these guarantees.
“Firstly, there are two aspects which are the welfare of MPs and the need for resources to discharge their mandate.
“With respect to the welfare of MPs, I have committed myself and I want to repeat that when we started the Parliamentary Car Scheme, it was on a loan basis.
“I have since converted it to be a free car scheme — you will not be required to pay for that car and I would like to carry that scheme to the next Parliament.
“We want to assure each MP a free car,” said the Finance minister.
He said there were also considerations about those MPs with vehicles that normally do not last beyond two years, especially those in rural constituencies.
Regarding these, Chinamasa said government would give them duty free certificates to buy a second vehicle for themselves but that will be done in the third year of an MP’s life in Parliament.
“We agreed that those who suffer damage (to their vehicles) through accidents will be allowed free duty to replace the car that they had bought,” he said.
“With respect to the needs of Parliament to carry out its mandate, I want to assure this House that the resources will be provided so that they carry fully their mandate. So far, I am told that we have done our best to meet that responsibility.”
Currently, Parliament gives MPs a choice of one off-road vehicle between a Ford Everest and a Ranger.
The MPs currently earn a gross salary of $1 124 per month and $1 046 in representation allowance.
Chinamasa’s sentiments come as Parliament filed summons against a number of former legislators who left without servicing their vehicle loans.
Former Zanu PF MP 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 year, Parliament seeks to recover a total of $258 809 in unpaid vehicle loans advanced to the legislators during their terms of office.
Last year, Zanu PF Buhera West MP Oliver Mandipaka asked Parliament to give rural legislators at least two cars, arguing that most of the lawmakers become destitute following the expiry of their terms.
The former police spokesperson said the welfare of parliamentarians “must be taken seriously”.
“… 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,” said Mandipaka then.
“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.
“So, all it means is that if perhaps we get two or more vehicles, we will be able to access rugged terrains”.