Parliamentarians owed $15m in allowances

HARARE – Members of the National Assembly and Senators are demanding $15 million in amounts owed to them for sitting allowances that have not been paid since the commencement of the present 8th Parliament in 2013.

There are 275 National Assembly legislators and 80 senators. Each parliamentarian is supposed to get $75 per sitting while committee sittings attract the same payment.

Some of the MPs are owed money from the 7th Parliament that expired in 2013.

Under the Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Benefits Act, legislators are entitled only to those allowances specified in regulations made by President Robert Mugabe under the Act.

On Tuesday, MDC MP for Musikavanhu Prosper Mutseyami told the National Assembly that legislators had seconded Buhera West Zanu PF MP, Oliver Mandipaka, to pursue the matter with the Speaker, Jacob Mudenda.

“My point of order … came up through … Mandipaka with regard to the welfare of Members of Parliament,” Mutseyami said.

“The Speaker, who was in the chair then last week, put it across to Members of Parliament that a response was going to be put across in this House this week on this Day of our Lord in the year 2017.

“As we speak now, the day is almost coming to a close and nothing has been made to that effect. For the good of the House since tomorrow will be Government Business, it will be Question Time and might not be given priority, if we can have a hearing with regard to the response on that issue on the welfare which was put across last week by…Mandipaka,” he pleaded.

Mutseyami  got support from Zanu PF MP for Zvishavane John Holder who complained that “we get only $75 per sitting while others in the region get much more.”

In response, the temporary speaker Rueben Marumahoko said that “the issue that you have raised is being considered.”

“The work is still young and there are some two days to go, so you will be notified in due course,” Marumahoko said.

Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda said he could not immediately verify the figures because “we are busy right now we cannot attend to you, I am sorry”.

In October last year, Mudenda revealed that the total amount treasury owed Parliament stood at $10 million.

Addressing MPs during a briefing ahead of their annual pre-budget seminar, Mudenda called on legislators to prioritise advocacy efforts directed at compelling the treasury to release the funds.

“More importantly, stand for your own case as Parliament. I say this because we are behind in terms of the allowances due to presiding officers, honourable members and staff members of Parliament,” said Mudenda.

“That must ring a bell in terms of putting your case during the pre-budget seminar and more importantly when the honourable minister presents the Finance Bill in Parliament. I hope you will not disappoint.”

Apart from lagging behind on allowances, government has also been struggling to accommodate the parliamentarians at the pre-independence building in the capital and plans have afoot to build a new and bigger Parliament in Mt Hampden.

MDC senator David Chimhini has also said over 70 former legislators in the 7th Parliament were still owed.

Chimhini represented both Zanu PF and MDC MPs from the 7th Parliament in discussions with the executive.

He said while Mudenda had made efforts to pacify the restive former MPs by making a commitment to pay, there was no movement on the part of government.

“The commitment is there but it is lacking on action as some of us have even passed on without getting their dues, for example, Misheck Kagurabadza from Manicaland,” said Chimhini. – Daily News