Mthuli Mthuli gives in to MPs’ demands




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FINANCE minister, Mthuli Ncube, has been forced to increase the budget allocation for Parliament to curry favour with legislators after they threatened not to pass his ‘anti-poor’ budget.

Members of Parliament (MPs) demanded top-of-the-range Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles, hotel stay for their spouses, huge perks, additional benefits as well as payment of salaries for their workers.

They complained about their welfare which they said did not match their counterparts in the Southern African Development Community region, adding that they were a laughing stock in their respective constituencies.

They made the demands during budget debate last week.

Ncube, who courted public anger over his 2024 budget, was forced to increase the budget allocation for Parliament to please the MPs.

“I propose that we increase the budget for Parliament by another ZWL$225 billion so that it becomes ZWL$700 billion in response to those needs,” Ncube said on Thursday.

“There was a question specifically about vehicles, we have budgeted ZWL$132 billion at the current exchange rate, which converts to about US$60 000 per vehicle.

“We have done that but I think the main issue is that we increase the budget for Parliament to ZWL$700 billion.”

Ncube also proposed to increase the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) budget allocations.

Legislators representing 210 constituencies have access to CDF, which is allocated by Treasury to initiate development projects. Government introduced the CDF in 2010.

“I am aware that we need to increase the budget for constituency offices and constituency visits. Also, in the past, we have talked about research officers to support MPs and also to bolster the CDF. We have done some calculations with my staff,” Ncube said.

He told legislators that the facility for the importation of their vehicles, including those from the Ninth Parliament, is still in place.

“I must say that the facility for the second vehicle is still in place, so you are free to import a second vehicle. Those from the Ninth Parliament who could not bring in cars before Parliament was dissolved, we are going to extend the Statutory Instrument so that you can bring in your cars,” he said.

“I have already received a letter through the Clerk of Parliament of members who were affected. We are processing that as Treasury.”

“In terms of Parliament staff, they also have access to duty free motor vehicles just like any other civil servant.”

Ncube said there was need to have a committee to put together a decent welfare package for the MPs to ensure they enjoy a descent lifestyle.

“We can identify land and once that land has been identified, we take some amount and deposit with a building society and build accommodation for our MPs. They are given a key and they use that during the duration of Parliament.”

He added: “That is what should come to the welfare committee for discussion so that we all agree on the best model and the government stands ready to support. I agree that we need to do something with accommodation.”

Ncube was under pressure to pamper the MPs after they threatened not to pass his budget.

The MPs argued that US$60 000 was not sufficient to purchase vehicles of their choice.

In December, MPs were pampered with US$40 000 housing loans that divided public opinion countrywide.

The housing loans caused fissures within the opposition circles especially the Citizens Coalition for Change after its leader Nelson Chamisa criticised MPs from his party for accepting the money which he described as a bribe from the Zanu-PF-led government.

Government offered a US$40 000 loan to each sitting MP, US$500 000 for individual Cabinet ministers and US$350 000 for their deputies.

Source – newsday