HARARE – Zimbabwe’s legislators yesterday complained about their poor remuneration with some calling for the two Ministers of Finance, current minister Ignatius Chombo, and previous minister Patrick Chinamasa to come and address Parliament on their plight.
One MP Irene Zindi said the legislators were earning $1 000 a month which was too little for them to do anything.
“I took my car for service and they want $600. I am only paid $1 000 per month, so where do I get that money from? Please, listen to my contribution…… I am saying, as Hon. Members of Parliament, we earn $1 000.00 per month. When people die in our constituencies, the bereaved families expect you to sympathise and mourn with them and not only that, when parents have no money to pay school fees for their children, they expect you to assist with payment of fees and the list is endless…”
Temba Mliswa said the legislators were being forced to sell fuel coupons to get money: “We cannot go to our constituencies because we are being accused of not doing our job when we have no funding. MPs are selling fuel coupons in order to get money. Our dignity and integrity is no longer there and therefore, we cannot go back to our constituencies. Ministers are being given coupons, pay and new cars, but we have nothing,” he said.
Remigious Matangira demanded money there and then. No excuses. “Now Madam Speaker, if you tell us to wait, munoziva mimba haivharwi nokuti rinemanyanga hariputirwe. Right now, we are going to campaign in our constituencies telling our people lies. Give us our allowances and CDF so that we can fulfil our promises. If a Member misuses the funds, then they should be arrested. We want money today and we do not want any excuses.”
The average salary in Zimbabwe is reported to be about $350 a month.
Two years ago President Robert Mugabe was reported to be earning $12 000 a month but complained that it was not enough.
His wife, however, just bought a 55 hectare plot in Harare for $4.2 million.
She also reportedly bought another property in Johannesburg for R45 million.
Below is the full debate:
HON. ENG. MUDZURI: On a point of order, I want to appreciate your announcement today that tomorrow we have a Pre-Budget Seminar Briefing. However, I wanted your office to recognise that Fridays are a bit difficult; the first thing is that it is constituency day and the second issue is that there is registration which has been giving people difficulties. MPs are helping their constituents to ensure that the last few days left, in terms of the six days on the glitch need to be attended to.
So, you might not find enough MPs on this Pre-Budget Seminar because they are rushing to their constituencies. If you could choose another day, which is not necessarily Friday, when there is this glitch on certain constituencies. I thank you.
THE DEPUTY SPEAKER: I understand what you are saying, those with constituencies may need to go and attend their constituencies on Fridays but I have spent the whole week announcing this. Now, we will be having this seminar tomorrow and you start suggesting that we change the date. Also the Pre-Budget Seminar briefing is equally important to what is happening in the constituencies. We do not do it every Friday, it is only this Friday where we are going to have this Pre-Budget Seminar, once and for all, then we go to the constituencies. You have to represent your Constituency at that Pre-Budget Seminar. I thank you.
HON. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I think this Pre-Budget Seminar briefing is important. Are you aware that other Members of Parliament are already on an outreach? They are doing Parliamentary duty right now, consulting people. So we are already in sixes and sevens, the Agriculture Committee is in Masvingo and the Mines Committee as well yet we are supposed to do this all of us at once. How are they going to give feed back to their constituencies when we are in sixes and sevens?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is the same, we are sitting here in Parliament whilst the other Hon. Members are conducting outreach programmes. For your own information, Friday is a sitting day. According to the Standing Rules and Orders of this House, Friday is a sitting day.
HON. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, I totally agree with what you are saying but we are saying is that this whole Budget is what drives the economy of the country. Some of the sessions here, they can miss but not the Budget of the country, they have to represent their constituencies. It is with due respect that you reconsider this decision because we will not have another Pre-Budget again, how are they going to report back to their constituencies.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Mliswa, I hear what you are saying. I am appealing to Hon. Members in this House to attend tomorrow’s Pre-Budget Seminar briefing and also bring out what you are saying on behalf of your colleagues who are out there. Thank you very much.
*HON. MUTSEYAMI: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me time to make my contributions. Last week, Hon. Mandipaka raised a point of order when he was talking about the welfare of Members of Parliament. We are now faced with the budget which you introduced last year and we were promised a lot of things in the previous budget but none of them was implemented. When we are looking at this national duty at hand, especially when I look at my responsibility as a Committee Member of the Welfare of Parliamentarians, we were told that you were going to respond to our questions but today is Thursday; tomorrow we are going to a seminar and then we go away. You have not responded to the issue on the welfare of Parliamentarians.
The Speaker also told us last year when we were going for Christmas that, each Member was going to get an Ipad and we are now facing the 2017 Christmas and no one has received these promised items. We raise these issues which are related to the welfare of the Members of Parliament and we also said that those members who are responsible for writing these Hansards, the Hansard Reporters are in crowded offices. Their offices are stuffy; they are unhealthy. The Speaker promised us that he was going to look into the welfare of the office space of Hansard officers and the offices were going to be air conditioned or aerated but nothing to date has been done. Definitely, when we go to our offices and we see the great things done by these workers, they are in unhealthy and unhygienic conditions. Please sympathise with them. Please respond to our requests.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member. We know you have a lot of issues which you want to be looked into and these were raised by the Committees in previous Parliaments. I only hope – some of you read the stories which appeared in our newspapers today. There was a column which was discussing the welfare of the Members of Parliament. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]
– Order, order Hon. Members.
When we look at the issues which we promised, the Ipads and those other things, they are being looked into by Parliament Administration. Let us not give to reporters some of these things which are not supposed to be for public consumption. This is just for the sake of the Caucus.
HON. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, the issue….
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Bring it as a motion Hon. Mliswa. I have recognised the Chief Whip.
HON. MLISWA: Chief Whip chimbogarai pasi, hatina mari. Welfare yedu iri important.
*HON. HOLDER: We now realise that the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has been changed, when the new one comes and we tell him about the issues, he will tell us that he has no information on what was discussed in the past. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Hon. Mliswa, please can we have silence in the House.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
HON. MATUKE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to 8 be stood over until the rest of the Orders of the Day have been disposed of.
HON. RUNGANI: I second. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Munengami, we have to behave ourselves please.
HON. MUNENGAMI: What did I do?
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Why are you shouting?
HON. MUNENGAMI: I am just sitting here, what have I done.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, no tinofanira kuita zvinhu sema Hon. Members. Ndiani? Hausiriwe? I am sorry. I am sorry Hon. Munengami because you are used to… [HON. MEMBERS: Mari, mari, mari!] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: The ruling party is also doing that? Hon. Mandipaka and Hon. Mashayamombe, we do not expect that to come from the right side of the House – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes!
Hon. Mashayamombe having wanted to raise a point of order.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Handina kukurecogoniza. Can you take your seat?
HON. MASHAYAMOMBE: I point of order ka nhai Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: You do not know what I want to say. You stand up, then I recognise you, not to just start talking. That is the procedure of the House.
HON. HOLDER: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am rising on a point of privilege. The reason I am rising on a point of privileges is that we do not need to sweep issues under the carpet. The reason being that, this question was asked and time was given for an explanation to come. Now there is a new Minister of Finance and Economic Development and that new Minister might come with his own ideology to say that I am not paying you.
Hon. Members have not received Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and their allowances. We need to go and secure our victories to come back to this august House. The problem is that we are under siege where when we speak, we are told to sit down or be sent out. I am feeling as Hon. Members of Parliament, if this matter can be brought straight to our attention that why is it that we need to go and do certain things in order for us to get what belongs to us. What I know is what is for us that is not with us is against us. Thank you Madam Speaker.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. Member. I go along with what you are saying because once you have this CDF and whatever welfare of the Members of Parliament, we will also benefit. What I am saying is those are some of the issues we were supposed to bring in while the Ministers were here. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – So what do you want me to do now?
HON. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, with due respect, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Adv. Jacob Mudenda and the President of the Senate are on annual leave paid by Parliament at this point in time. So, they are getting their welfare taken care of going on holiday, but we are here. So what are you to say about that? There are packages they are getting. On annual leave, the Speaker goes on holiday spending money, but we are here suffering. So, why then should our leader go on annual leave while his children are suffering? How can a father be eating well and the children are suffering? To me, he must be fighting for us, which means we are standing up like this because no one is fighting for us. We have got to a point where if we do not fight, no one will fight for us and that is what we are doing right now and we are going to fight for ourselves.
We cannot go to our constituencies because we are being accused of not doing our job when we have no funding. MPs are selling fuel coupons in order to get money. Our dignity and integrity is no longer there and therefore, we cannot go back to our constituencies. Ministers are being given coupons, pay and new cars, but we have nothing.
Madam Speaker, there is no CDF and so, this issue should be taken to our leaders that we are tired. Tomorrow, there is the pre-budget where we will be just given food and we stay in hotels. We are tired of just eating and staying in hotels. We want our money and our Ipads so that we can see what we can do.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: On the issue of those who are on holidays, I do not have anything to debate about that one, but what I want to tell you is that all those issues are being looked into – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Yes, we will come and report to you when there is any outcome, not to just promise you.
*HON. MASHAYAMOMBE: Thank you Madam Speaker. I understand that you saw me discussing with my colleagues and we were talking about the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). We know that if the President was to hear that I was mourning for CDF, the President would be very much worried. Since I came into this Parliament in 2013, I have never received anything and it pains us a lot.
We promised our constituencies that we were going to carry out some developmental projects, but to date I have not been able to carry out any developmental projects. We need these CDF so that we develop our constituencies.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon. Mashayamombe, thank you very much for your contribution. We are saying this is going to be of benefit to all Members of Parliament who have constituencies when we get the CDF which is going to be allocated to us. That is why I am urging you Members of Parliament to attend the pre-budget where we are going to hold discussions – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – You are not going? Hon. Mandipaka, you may ignore me but I hear what you are saying. The Minister of Finance is going to attend the meeting tomorrow whereby all these issues will be discussed. So, our wish is that all Hon. Members get what is due to them.
HON. GUZAH: On a point of order Madam Speaker. I arise on a point of order with regards to the comments you made when you said Members of Parliament on this side of the divide cannot raise issues the way they were raising.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, that is not what I said.
HON. GUZAH: Why am I saying this Madam Speaker, you must understand that the welfare of Members of Parliament cuts across the political divide – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – You must understand that clearly. We do not want to be gagged by the Speaker of Parliament when we speak of issues that are key to our welfare here. You must understand, when we go back to our constituencies back there, people are looking at us. We are using resources from our pockets to sustain our constituents. We should not be barred from speaking our hearts and minds out. Whether we are the ruling party or not, we must be able to speak our minds. I thank you.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Thank you Madam Speaker for giving me the opportunity to make my contribution – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –May you please give me time to make my contribution – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] –
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. I think we should listen to what other Members of Parliament are saying.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Madam Speaker, you made a prayer when you opened this session and in that prayer you said we are appointed by the Lord above that we reign over his people. We all know that the Lord is looking at us and the Lord is saying, “you Member of Parliament when you were campaigning you promised people that you were going to carry out developmental projects and you mentioned all those projects.” When we made those promises, we hoped that there would be the CDF whereby we were going to get that money to carry out projects. You said you will not come back if you do not carry out any developmental projects that you promised people. What did you say? – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
What we want is, to carry out and fulfil all the promises we made to our constituents. We have the zeal.
An Hon. Member having passed between the Chair and the Hon. Member speaking.
THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Member, can you please take your seat – [AN HON. MEMBER: She is a Minister.] – Yes, even the Minister is a Member of Parliament. Respect the procedures in the House and sit down.
*HON. MATANGIRA: Now Madam Speaker, if you tell us to wait, munoziva mimba haivharwi nokuti rinemanyanga hariputirwe. Right now, we are going to campaign in our constituencies telling our people lies. Give us our allowances and CDF so that we can fulfil our promises. If a Member misuses the funds, then they should be arrested. We want money today and we do not want any excuses – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
*HON. ZINDI: Thank you Madam Speaker. I am not going to repeat what has been said by the previous speakers, but I will just make a clear explanation on the life of a Member of Parliament. I know you can feel it because you are a Member of Parliament and you also visit your constituency.
When we go to these constituencies, we are using monies from our own pockets. In our constituencies if anybody passes on, as a Member of Parliament you are supposed to make a contribution. You cannot just go and sympathise with the bereaved, but you find that you have to buy some items such as coffins, drinks, food and whatever should be consumed at that funeral. That is what is expected of you. When we are going to visit constituencies, you are supposed to fuel your car and take it for service.
I took my car for service and they want $6 00. I am only paid $1 000 per month, so where do I get that money from? Please, listen to my contribution. I want you to pay attention to what I am saying – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – I had kept quiet because I want you to pay attention to my contribution.
I am saying, as Hon. Members of Parliament, we earn $1 000.00 per month. When people die in our constituencies, the bereaved families expect you to sympathise and mourn with them and not only that, when parents have no money to pay school fees for their children, they expect you to assist with payment of fees and the list is endless.
At our party, whenever a meeting is called, as Hon. Members of Parliament, we are expected to ferry our respective supporters to and from the meeting venue. When there is a march being held in Harare, we are expected to hire buses and fuel them to ferry our constituents to and from Harare to attend the march. As Hon. Members of Parliament, we are also expected to cater for the welfare of all the people whom you will have brought. Should you fail in carrying out that duty of ferrying and feeding your constituents, they will not vote for you in the next election.
Some of us are now paupers because in order to sustain the life-style of being a Member of Parliament, we end up selling our livestock and other properties hence all our funds are depleted. We are now paupers. When you compare yourself to Hon. Ministers, they have ministries, they are given fuel coupons in Parliament and fuel allowances by both their respective ministries and parastatals they also have drivers who are paid by the State. Their cars are serviced by the State but Hon. Members of Parliament have to service their own vehicles because it will break down if you do not do so and you will not be able to conduct your parliamentary duties.
Hon. Members of Parliament are now acting as the cushions or shock absorbers between the people and the State. As a result, the shock absorber will ensure Government safety and you always do this with the mindset of being re-elected. What is really intriguing about this whole parliamentary business is that when people are not content with what you are doing, they will send a competitor to compete with you yet now the Administration of Parliament is telling us to wait patiently. For how long have you been talking about our welfare issue?
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will respond to the concerns that were raised by the Hon. Member and pick on two to three issues. Firstly, Hon. Ministers do not receive fuel coupons from Parliament. Now, we have to form a caucus that will look at both sides and then invite the Presiding Officers including the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development so that we air our grievances. All of us want to benefit in all these issues you raised.
*HON. PARADZA: Madam Speaker, you are proposing a caucus to discuss our welfare but there is no caucus that is greater than what we already are doing in this House. – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, order there is a higher caucus to this one because we are writing down all your concerns and we will present them to higher offices for action. We are discussing about the welfare of all Members of Parliament and this is for the benefit of all parliamentarians whether in the National Assembly or Senate and we will take it up, but we cannot speculate how long it will take for them to respond. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – This is why I am proposing that we have a special caucus where we will have all the Presiding Officers and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development so that we come up with something. At the moment, we may call each other names but as a Presiding Officer, I am not responsible for the disbursement of funds. I am only proposing a way forward in resolving issues pertaining to our welfare.
*HON. R. N. S. MAWERE: Thank you Madam Speaker. There is no partisan approach as far as the welfare of Members of Parliament is concerned. Whatever it is, we are saying playing games with our welfare takes time. We only want to hear whether or not there is money that is set aside for Members of Parliament. If the money is there, where is it? Please give us. We cannot hire Wellcash because we opposed it in here. So, who then can we hire?
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: I cannot confirm whether funds are available or not because I am not in a position to do so.
*HON. ZIYAMBI: The issue at hand is on the welfare of Members of Parliament and it is not enough that you have advised us to hold a caucus because we know that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will say they have no money and will advise us to wait for some time.
I am proposing that we enact a law that focuses on all the parliamentary concerns that we have been discussing here, highlighting how our funds should be disbursed and allowances as well. Once that law is enacted, whosoever breaks it is liable for punishment because if we do not have that clearly laid out, we will keep on debating this issue annually.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: All I am asking from you Hon. Members, is to register your concerns and come up with proposals other than to keep complaining and raise emotions. – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.] – Order, order, let us have order in the House and understand each other.
*HON. CHINOTIMBA: Madam Speaker, I am not sure when we have such problems for the Clerk of Parliament or you as the Speaker to invite the Minister of Finance and Economic Development to come and explain the position to the House. I am saying this because we are supposed to be debating other parliamentary business yet we are here debating on our welfare.
If this was happening at the trade unions, we would summon the managing director of a company because he knows that there is no progress from aggrieved workers. Why are we not summoning the respective Minister who is responsible for this portfolio to come and address this issue once and for all? Both Hon. Speaker and Chief Whips are here and yet we have the correct officials who are there. In our case, we even have the Chief Whips who can whip us into line. So what we do not want is for us as Members of Parliament to go on an illegal strike or job action and refuse to go to the committee tomorrow. That is why I am saying you should summon both the current and the former Minister of Finance and Economic Development to come and tell us where the money is and when it will be disbursed. I thank you.
*THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order Hon. Members. You have brought up a very noble idea that we have to invite the Minister but the Minister may tell us that he has some other commitments. What I would propose is instead of summoning him now, let us give him a date to come and respond to our grievances.
HON. MATUKE: Before I propose the adjournment of the House, I think the Members are complaining because they are owed by Parliament. They are not greedy because they also need to get their money that is owed to them by Parliament. Furthermore they are entitled to Constituency Development Funds, they deserve it because it is their right. So, because of the tempers that are in this House I do not think we can proceed with the debate. I move that the debate do now adjourn.
Motion put and agreed to.