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Convert civil servants salaries at interbank rate: Chinotimba [Full text]

Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba has called on the Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mthuli Ncube to consider converting civil servants salaries using the interbank rate adding that what they are getting is accounting to nothing in the current economic situation.

Chinotimba said when the country converted to the mono currency system they should have also converted the civil servants salaries using the interbank rate.

The self-styled politician and war veteran added that prices of goods and services have gone up to the extent that workers are not able to meet transport cost to work or their rural areas.

The Buhera South legislator also pleaded with treasury to consider the plight of war veterans adding that they should be allowed to import cars duty-free among other perks.

Below is the full text of what Honourable Chinotimba said in the National Assembly during a debate on the midterm review and budget supplement:

Honourable Chinotimba:  Thank you, Mr Speaker Sir. I have a few things that I have in support of the supplementary budget before us.  Firstly, I want to dwell on the issue that the Minister mentioned.  It is the issue on people with disability.  I want to thank the Minister of Finance and Economic Development for reinstating the duty-free for those people with disability in terms of availing duty-free cars for them.  In the event of death, the person who takes it over used to pay duty, but now they have said that if such an event occurs, the person cannot pay duty.

What I want to say, Minister of Finance and Economic Development is that people with disabilities are varied.  There are people who are blind, there are some who are physically handicapped, but we also have war veterans.  The war veterans themselves are not able to walk, whether they have two legs.  They are people with disability because when they used to move during the war, they never used to use vehicles.

For you to be there, Hon. Minister, it is because of the sacrifice by the liberation war veterans.  Some of us lost our sense of hearing, some are blind and some do not have legs at all.  We should take a leaf from America which has the War Veterans Association for World War II.  In Namibia, they have the War Veteran’s Social Service.

The war veterans should be allowed to buy vehicles.  Nothing has been done to improve the lives of war veterans.  It would be good if they could be enabled to buy cars duty-free.  As Members of Parliament, we represent people and we have been told that we should get vehicles that are duty-free for five years.

Mr Speaker, I am debating the budget.  I am not debating the report of which if we do not debate the budget on the war veterans now, we will only be able to see the budget next year.  So I am debating the budget that should be implemented in the mid-year plan.  Mr Speaker, the Budget that is talking of people with disability, I am saying all the war veterans are living with disability, no matter who.  They are all disabled.  They used to walk on foot but some of them no longer have limbs and are having challenges with their joints.  I want the Minister of Finance to include it in his Mid-Year Budget that the war veterans should be allowed to buy vehicles duty-free.  All Members in this august House will be getting duty free vehicles but war veterans are not allowed to get duty free vehicles.  I think even ten years for a duty-free vehicle is okay.  War veterans in America, Namibia, South Africa, when the Minister of Finance in those countries are presenting the Budget, they advocate that war veterans should get certain priorities.  I want to say that on the section of people with disability, the Minister should include war veterans so that they are able to buy vehicles of their choice duty-free for ten years or more once in a blue moon because the war veterans are suffering.

On the issue of command agriculture, Mr Speaker Sir, the Minister allocated a figure – let me tell you, Mr Speaker, there is no diesel.  You have allocated maybe $10 billion but there is no diesel.  We do not know where the diesel will come from for people to engage in agriculture.  For all of us to be here in this House, it is because of food but if we do not have diesel and without specific filling stations for farmers, we are not going anywhere.  If you are to go to PUMA, there is no diesel.  The MPs have their coupons in their pockets because the diesel is not available.  What we are saying is, yes, you increased the Budget allocation towards command agriculture or farming but where will this be drawn from.  The Government and the Ministry of Finance should set aside filling stations for farmers.

Furthermore, Mr Speaker, we want to talk about civil servants.  Minister, we have an event that happened when we removed the United States Dollar converting to the mono currency system that we have. We did not address the issue of salaries of our workers.  The workers’ salaries were left at the rate of 1:1 yet the money was from US$1 to Z$3.50.  We did not convert it to the equivalent of the $3.50 that was at the interbank rate.  Mr Speaker, I am saying this because we are also representatives of the workers.  The workers are not getting any money.  It is not sufficient for them.  It should have been equated to the interbank rate.  The issue at hand Mr Speaker is that diesel prices are going up, the bus fares are also going up and the worker is still on US$1 to Z$1when he is now paying a fare of $5 from Glen View to come here.  To come from my home area Birchenough to Harare, they are now paying $70 and the worker who is earning $300 cannot visit his home area.

We are saying, in this Supplementary Budget, the Minister should have cushioned the civil servants and increased the salaries.  In fact, the money that was increased by the Ministry of Finance should have gone to the Ministry of Public Service so that the workers could get adequate salaries.  As I speak here Mr Speaker, I am saying the money that was put towards the Ministry of Public Service should be increased because that is where the civil servants are and that is where everyone is represented.  For the Government to get money, the civil servants look for the money.  The moment we do not pay them adequate salaries, it means there is going to be an increase in corruption.  What are they going to do at the end of the day in order to fend for themselves?  I want to thank the Minister of Finance for increasing the Budget for people living with disability by $700 thousand; those whom you said will be availed food in both the rural and urban areas.  The $700 thousand is a bit low.  I think the figure should increase because Zimbabwe has about 14 million to 16 million people right now.  There are more than 700 thousand people living in poverty in rural areas.  I think that figure should be increased to more than $1 million to ensure that people in rural areas get food and are secure.  I thank you.

SOURCE: HANSARD

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Daniel Chigundu

Daniel Chigundu is a male journalist in Zimbabwe and has been practising since September 2009. He used to the editor for The Business Connect (newspaper) in Harare, has his own news website Tourism Focus which is biased towards the tourism sector. Daniel is also working with Magamba Network on their project called Open Parliament where they do live coverage of Parliamentary activities on Twitter and Facebook. He is currently the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Parliamentary Journalists Forum, is a member of Zimbabwe Small Broadcasters Association and a board member of Digital Communication Network. He holds a Diploma in Communication and Journalism from the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA), a certificate in Youth leadership training from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a certificate in Citizen Journalism from Magamba Network and is currently a first-year student at Zimbabwe Open University studying for a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Ethics and Organisational Leadership.

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