Zimbabwe legislators being chased by hotels for non-paid bills

Zimbabwe legislators yesterday complained that they were being chased away from one hotel to another because of non-payment for their accommodation.

Opposition legislator David Tekeshe said if Parliament could not accommodate them it should give them money so that they can secure their own accommodation.

Independent legislator Temba Mliswa, however, said Tekeshe should not complain because he was a member of the Standing Rules committees which should ensure that legislators are catered for.

Here is what transpired:

HON. TESESHE:  Thank you Madam Speaker. My point of privilege arises on the issue of accommodation for Members of Parliament.  We have been receiving calls from Members of Parliament who are being chased away from hotels – we are now sick and tired of this.  As Hon. Members, it is embarrassing for one to be turned away from one hotel to the next.  May there be an arrangement where people can be given sufficient funds to ensure that people are able to look after themselves?  In Uganda, Members are not provided accommodation but they are given sufficient funds for them to look for their own accommodation.

If Parliament cannot provide us with accommodation, we must be given funds to look for accommodation.  It is embarrassing moving from one hotel to the other as Members of Parliament.  For the four years I have been a Member of Parliament, this has been the most embarrassing year for me for failing to secure accommodation.  In Uganda, they are allocated 10 000 for accommodation and fuel and they are given their salaries so that they take care of themselves.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Tekeshe, we have heard what you have said, it is demeaning indeed for an Hon. Member of Parliament to be turned away from a hotel where they will be expecting to get accommodation and where they are supposed to be respected as Hon. Members, and moving from one hotel to the other does not give them a good image.  I have taken note of that.

HON. T. MLISWA: On a point of order Madam Speaker.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

HON. T. MLISWA: Madam Speaker, I want to remind Hon. Tekeshe that he is one of the Hon. Members who sits in the Standing Rules and Orders Committee where the welfare of Members of Parliament is discussed. I am a bit disturbed that he is bringing this issue up, we have brought these issues several times, and they are the ones who represent us; we have given up and we have lost hope. You are part of it, the Speaker chairs it, the Government Chief Whip is here and the Minister of Finance is not to be blamed because you have never reported back to us that in your deliberations as the Standing Orders Committee, you are failing to do this because of the Minister of Finance.  Leave the Minister out. You must negotiate for us, we are struggling because of you, let us not find a scapegoat.  The Hon. Speaker chairs this Committee, we would like to know the state of our welfare.  We discussed these issues with the Minister of Finance the last time, I was there and we brought issues that Members of Parliament would rather have money to pay for their mortgages and those who want to stay in hotels must stay in hotels.  That decision was brought before you and you never took it up.  I do not know where the Minister of Finance comes in, we are just not well represented, that is the truth of the matter.  Hon. Tekeshe, with that venom, deal with those issues kudare guru ramunogara, you think makagara mushe saka hamuna basa nesu. That is the truth of the matter, we are tired over these issues.

You have a better welfare, you have better cars and we do not get what we want. You are upgraded in terms of the cars you have, we have asked for a joint Caucus with the Government Chief Whip for our welfare and nobody listened to us.  So may God bless you, may the ancestors of this country bless you for not looking after those whom you must look after, I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you Hon. T. Mliswa, your concerns have been noted. Please do not lose hope.

HON. CHINOTIMBA: Thank you Madam Speaker.  This issue that is being discussed is a good one; if we take the South African example, you will observe that Government has built houses that are utilised by all Members of Parliament.  In South Africa, Parliament is in Cape Town and the Government buildings are in Pretoria.  Whenever they go to Parliament they go to Cape Town.  Upon arrival they have houses where they live, they do not use hotels, they have apartments, the houses do not belong to individual members but they are allocated to members for use during their term.  Namibia and Botswana is the same; instead of Hon. Members standing up daily raising points of order and saying they are not being looked after and being chased away from hotels; why not take the example of other countries?  They do not live in the same place for security reasons.  They are in different places for security reasons so that when there is an emergency, all Members of Parliament are not dead.

Let us learn the good that other Parliaments are doing.  South Africa has accepted homosexuality and we cannot accept it but we take the good practices that they do.  The issue of the welfare of their Members of Parliament, we would want our Members of Parliament to have houses constructed and this will save us money, they are given money for their upkeep. The other option is to give them money so that they meet their own expenses. The hotels are very expensive; Members consume meals that are more than their salaries.  It is painful that for the four days that members live in a hotel the expenses are not even equivalent to their salaries.  Members of Parliament must be given the money in the form of salaries.  It is an easy issue, we are almost at the end of our term, we should get to a stage that those who are coming back will have houses constructed for them and the Minister of Finance will not have any headaches because each and every Member will have their own apartment.  This is what is happening in South Africa.

The houses that they have, some would not even want to get out of these houses and they will refuse to vacate because the houses are state of the arts apartments that are being constructed for Members of Parliament and they belong to Government.  The same applies to the Ministers; not a single Minister lives in his or her own house during the term of Parliament.  This is done so that Ministers can enjoy the same standard of living.  I am happy that the Minister of Finance is here.  I thank you.

THE HON. DEPUTY SPEAKER:  Thank you Hon. Chinotimba.  Your concerns have been taken note of.  It is the same argument that has been put forward by several other Members.  The august House is going to look into this issue to see how best the plight of Members of Parliament can be improved in terms of accommodation.

HON. BITI: On a point of order Madam Speaker. Can the esteemed Minister of Finance who is listening present a paper to the House on those welfare issues?  Thank you.

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