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MPs must get comfortable cars: Mliswa

Norton legislator Temba Mliswa has called on Parliament to ensure legislators are given comfortable cars such as land cruiser V8 as well as have their salaries and allowances reviewed upwards as was agreed.

Mliswa said most legislators sleep in Parliament during debates because they will be tired from using uncomfortable cars as compared to those of Ministers.

Legislators in Zimbabwe get off-road vehicles under a loan scheme and the current crop is awaiting delivery of their vehicles which according to Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube they are on their way.

Below is a full text of what Honourable Mliswa said in the National Assembly on Thursday:

Honourable Temba Mliswa: Thank you very much for affording me this opportunity to once again contribute to this motion of a fallen hero, the late Hon. Gumbwanda. Let me say that it has become a way of life now that every month there is a Member of Parliament who we debate on. What is important now is to debate on the circumstances that led to the death of Members of Parliament. The source of death is what we want to talk about.

Madam Speaker, you are aware of the Welfare Committee that represents Parliamentarians. I will call a spade a spade and say they are absolutely useless. The Welfare Committee that represents Members of Parliament is useless. It has failed to discharge its duties…

I shall withdraw the word useless and say they are dysfunctional. They are totally not functional at all because we can blame the Government but Parliament is an independent body. It is one of the three pillars of the State. Many a time the Speaker has attacked us for not contributing to the Budget. For the first time, we contributed to the Budget according to what Parliament wanted and even surpassed that. We took into consideration the welfare of Members of Parliament from salaries. The salaries have not been reviewed. We took into consideration the allowances, they have not been reviewed. We even went a step further to also accommodate the staff of Parliament. We spoke about the human resource which was less.

Hon. Members in this House, I want to take a minute to think. Parliament staff has been increased and nothing in our favour has been done. The clerks were hired but nothing was done for the Members of Parliament yet we are the ones who stood in this Parliament and moved the motion, contributed to the debate so that it is second in voting. It was never second. So you have got one arm of Parliament which is staff which is being taken care of and you have got the other arm of Members of Parliament which is not being taken care of. You are now creating a rift and a division. This is why I am saying what is the role of the Welfare Committee in this Parliament. The Welfare Committee is a Committee which is supposed to stand for Members of Parliament.

I have decided to self-impose myself as the chairman of the Welfare Committee of this Parliament because I do not belong to any party. These Members are constantly whipped. At times when they are whipped, they forget that they have responsibilities which require money and not whipping. You hear leaders from both sides telling them you cannot take two cars, what will the public say. I faced the public attack on my own when I raised the $80 000 and I defended you. I was not doing it because I needed a car. I myself am comfortable and I have always driven Land Cruisers and I can afford any car but it was the office of the Member of Parliament I was fighting for and not the individual. The office of the Member of Parliament must be given the dignity and integrity it deserves for tomorrow and not for today. This Parliament must make it clear that if you are to be said to be Member of Parliament that should change the office of Parliament. Let us not be in a career where no one wants to be there and say these are fools. We are seen as fools in this country yet we are there to deal with national issues.

It is important that the office of the Member of Parliament is respected. You are hearing in this House – Hon P. D. Sibanda contributed to the fact that Members of Parliament cannot even access accommodation. They are seen having to loiter around in town. The reason why I equally move that the Land Cruisers V8 must be the car, it is the only car which is comfortable if you want to sleep in if they decide to sleep in there because there is no accommodation out there.  You have a situation where Members of Parliament are constantly travelling and there must be a time where they rest.

I remember with my dear brother and colleague Hon. Nduna when he was the Chairman of the Committee on Mines and we decided to drive in his car, a Land Cruiser; it was a smooth ride. We drove for 12 hours nonstop. He had no driver because the car itself was comfortable. We arrived on time and did things on time. When we had to rest, we would rest. It is the comfort that makes you discharge your duties professionally, not the discomfort.

We had Members of Parliament addressing their constituency coming to Parliament, no wonder why most of them are asleep half of the time because of the cars which are not comfortable. We are told that we are sleeping. We are not sleeping on duty. They are sleeping because the car which they are driving is not a comfortable car. You have never seen a Minister asleep in this Parliament. Today we are talking about a situation where the Ministers are being given L200 series yet we are supposed to have oversight. How can you catch a thief when you are on a bicycle and a thief is in a Mercedes Benz? We are the ones who are supposed to be in the Mercedes Benz to catch the thief on the bike but it is the reverse.

We must understand that the allowances which are given to us and the Budget is passed are sacrosanct because you cannot reverse that. It is important that the Executive respects any ruling and Budget passed in this Parliament. In terms of allowances which Members of Parliament are supposed to get, if you calculate what it means today, it is nothing.  We are always paid when there is inflation. I have never known since I have been in Parliament where we were paid when there was no inflation. In the last session, our allowances came when there was inflation. It is as if the Government pushes for inflation to reward Members of Parliament. We cannot allow a situation like that because Hon Gumbwanda and others who are late were borrowing money based on the allowances and what they have been promised by the Budget.  We go and borrow because we know that we will be getting so much money because the Budget has been passed. And now they leave so much debt.

There are people who went and borrowed money because they were told that they would get a car worth $80000 and suddenly one makes a decision that the cars have gone to $50000. What does it make of the National Budget? What does it make of everything that we do here? If we did not realise that we are pawns, we are just being used to rubber-stamp things for a few people who are benefiting and yet we are told that we are not working. How can you send a soldier to war without ammunition? We absolutely do not have ammunition. No wonder why you see that every election, 80% of Members of Parliament are out because one guy who was a korokoza makes money and starts to campaign and they lose and not because they cannot perform to war without ammunition.  We absolutely have no ammunition, no wonder why you see that in every election, 80% of the Members of Parliament are out because one guy who was a korokoza makes money and starts to campaign with the money and they lose, not because they cannot perform.  It is because they do not have the money to get there.

On a sad note, I hear and applaud the Members of Parliament who are going to bury others but the reason why others cannot go is because they cannot afford, not because they do not want.  They have no fuel and they have no money.  Hon. Shamu must be commended, but you know that he is also a businessman and not many Members of Parliament are business people.  He can afford a thousand but none of the Members of Parliament with their salaries and allowances can donate a thousand.  They would love to Mr Speaker Sir, but it is because of the way that we are being treated and now because of that, we are divided and others who do not attend are probably said to not have a heart.  However, let me speak on their behalf, it is because of the welfare of the Members of Parliament.

Now you will see ten are going to be buried and soon you will see two and you will see none, and there will be no Member of Parliament.  I want to stand before you Mr Speaker Sir and defend these men and women in here who are for this country and for national interest but they are just not respected and acknowledged because we have a system in this country that thinks that when you are a Member of Parliament, you are going to milk.  What can they milk when they have no resources and no budget to even manage?  It is those who are in control of budgets that are able to milk.  Zimbabwe for a long time has been known to have Members of Parliament who are paupers.  Why honestly in this day and era in the Second Republic are we still having that?

The reason why no one wants to be a Member of Parliament is that they look at the way we survive.  You look at a Member of Parliament and there is no Member of Parliament who has ever been known to be successful after being a Member of Parliament.  Hon. Mavenyengwa spoke about how in South Africa you are given R5 million after a term, it is not because of anything but it is to appreciate the role and the work that you did in representing the nation.  This is something that we must learn.  Members of Parliament here if you recall in the Eighth Parliament, went to Kenya to go and study how Members of Parliaments’ welfare was taken care of.  We were told that they were given Land Cruisers, they have ten staff members and they are given $13 000 a month but why did they go there and come back yet we are not even there?  It was a waste of money again.  So, there is no point of even having a case study, of going to countries learning about the best practices for Members of Parliament.

Members of Parliament are not even supposed to be staying in hotels but they are supposed to be having their own apartments because a Member of Parliament is somebody who must be respected and has their own private life too.  Our lives are exposed at these hotels and we no longer have any dignity.  We are seen as people who do all sorts of bad things but we are human beings.  Have you ever seen judges living in hotels?   They have security.  The job of an MP needs security and we are not being respected.

We are said to be doing a lot of things that we misbehave and do various things of an illicit nature, but we are human beings.  We need security because no one is safe here but we are not given security and the judges are given security at their homes.  We have not even asked for security.  They are given drivers and they are given allowances.  Why can Members of Parliament not be given an allowance to look for a house or a flat to reside in?

Not only that, Members of Parliament are not being given and this is a serious issue, and Members of Parliament you must hear this.  We are said to be doing all sorts of things.  It is important to respect the institution of marriage and because of that, we must be given our own accommodation where the wife is there but you are going on duty, and you are going back to see your families.  How many people have time to see their families and yet we are told that we do illicit things?  We must from today, Members of Parliament, push for us to have decent accommodation where you come with your wife and with your husband.   You come and discharge your duties here and you go back.  The working conditions are terrible.  For a very long time, this has been happening and nothing is being said.

Mr Speaker Sir, we were in the bar having a drink with Hon. Murambiwa when he was discussing with other colleagues that we went there and so forth.  They even said that maybe it is not good for Members of Parliament to keep going there because they are forcing him to talk and he is supposed to rest, but Members of Parliament had a heart.  They went to see a person and so forth, and from nowhere a phone call comes, we were in there and we were told that he is no more.  I had just spoken to them as if I had prophesied to say when are we getting our cars?  The reason why I talk about cars is that this is the only thing that a Member of Parliament has.  The cars that they are driving from the party are not their cars and it is important that we are able to do that.

Mr Speaker Sir, let me say that it is important and that the Welfare Committee introspects, self reflects to say that what is their role.  If constitutionally we are meeting everything, we have the Constitution that we follow and you have the budget passed by this House and Parliament being number two but you still have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development single-handedly making a decision to say that it will be $50 000.  I want to ask this august House and the people who represent this august House – did that decision come from the Standing Rules and Orders Committee of this Parliament from the Welfare Committee?  If it did not come from the Welfare Committee, why then are we allowing the Chief Whips to agree to what Government has said?

Who are the Chief Whips serving?  If there was a vote of no confidence given in the Chief Whips, most of them would not survive this kind of behaviour.  We expect the Chief Whips – and I am speaking on behalf of those who are quiet and cannot clap because the walls and the corridors talk.  The Chief Whip is sitting there and it is about time that he knows that as a Politburo Member of the ruling party, he has benefits which Members of Parliament do not have.  They are given V8s and these Members do not have V8s.  As such, can he allow and can he have mercy on them to enjoy a V8, just like he does?  It is the only proper thing to do because a leader is one that carries his people so that they can be like him.  A leader is not one that wants to be on the top and allow the others to be cycling whilst he is in a Mercedes Benz.  People are watching and they will talk one day.  These Members are disgruntled.

When you see them quiet, they are appreciating and they are not heckling.  When they are against something, they heckle.  This must be a lesson to the Chief Whip that they are talking silently.  Silence is speaking.  They might clap and go on the groups and say thank you chef tatenda but inside, they are saying something else.  Allow us to be free and to be independent, especially on our welfare.  I close Mr Speaker by saying that the Chief Whips must go back in understanding that they are Members of Parliament and they must serve the interests of the Members of Parliament because they are sitting on a time bomb.  Things are accumulating every day.

I was part of seeing how Members of ZANU PF decided to go against the former President, Robert Mugabe yet they are the very same people who said Mugabe chetechete.  Let it be known to the leaders and the ruling party that you are creating a situation which will explode very soon.  I share a lot with these Members.  I was part of this party and I have never been in any party and I am saying that the time bomb is coming.  May you respect them and may you give them what belongs to them.  They spent a lot of money to be MPs.  They campaigned with their money.  As such, allow them to enjoy the five years with what is entitled to them.  Thank you very much.

 

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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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