Zvamaida Murwira, Harare Bureau
Members of Parliament last week got a windfall after Treasury released about $4,5 million towards their outstanding sitting and fuel allowances, which they had not been paid since the start of the Eighth Parliament in 2013.
The payment, which was an early Christmas present, brought smiles to the legislators and ended bickering between the lawmakers and the Executive, as they had in the past threatened to disrupt business of Parliament demanding that they be paid their outstanding sitting and fuel allowances.
One Member of Parliament told our Harare Bureau yesterday that an MP got as much as $30 000 deposited in his or her account.
“The money was calculated in terms of one’s attendance of Parliament and committee sittings,” said one legislator. “If you were consistent, you could get as much as $40 000 if not more, but on average an MP got $30 000 in sitting allowances.”
Zanu-PF Chief Whip, Cde Lovemore Matuke confirmed the payment yesterday.
“Indeed, we are grateful to the Government for making good our outstanding allowances,” he said. “Every MP is happy and it boosted the morale of our legislators across the political divide. The money was long overdue.”
Norton MP Mr Temba Mliswa (Independent) rose on a point of order last week in the Chamber to convey his excitement with the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda over the payment.
“My point of order first of all is to thank you for ensuring that we got our money into our accounts,” he said. “It is only proper that when you do good, we must also recognise the good. We know that before we actually had a break, I did bring the issue of our allowances being outstanding and you did promise us.
“You did certainly guarantee us that you would ensure that we get our allowances. I would like to thank you for that. The only outstanding issue is really not your baby, but it is the stands. We hope that the Minister of Local Government can equally move quicker to ensure that we also get our stands.”
A source at Parliament said Treasury had disbursed about $4,5 million to pay the outstanding allowances.
“We received about $4,5 million from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to liquidate the allowances. As it stands, we no longer owe MPs,” said the source.
“The only MPs with outstanding money are those that should be paid accommodation allowances for not staying in Parliament booked hotels. This applies to MPs whose constituencies are outside Harare, but might have residences in the capital and might not need accommodation from Parliament.
“They help us a lot in saving costs in accommodation because we will pay them half of what it costs for a night in a hotel.”
Over the past months, parliamentary business has been disrupted as legislators pressed to have their allowances paid.
At one stage, a pre-budget seminar was delayed as MPs insisted that they wanted a concrete time frame when they would be paid.
In another instance, Parliament had to prematurely adjourn after MPs refused to conduct business of the day demanding their outstanding allowances given that their term of office was coming to an end.
Most of them complained that they were subsidising Parliament by coming to work using their own resources.
Article Source: The Chronicle