By Buhle Tshavango
Legislators who managed to arm-twist the financially broke government this week to release US$4 million towards their outstanding sitting allowances say the now want duty free-certificates to import cars.
According to a circular from the treasury, legislators should have received at least half of their outstanding allowances by next week Wednesday (6th of November) while logistics for the remainder are being worked.
The government had not paid legislators sitting allowances since 2013, while some from the 7th Parliament are also owed part of their sitting allowances which totals to US$15 million.
Legislators get US$2 000 as a monthly salary and are also entitled to US$75 per day as sitting allowance when Parliament is sitting.
According to the Parliament sitting calendar for 2017, legislators are expected to attend Parliament for about 87 days which means this year alone they will get about US$6 525 as sitting allowances.
In 2014, Parliament sat for 60 days, 85 days in 2015 and 77 days in 2016.
Speaking in the National Assembly, after receiving the letter of assurance from the treasury, Hurungwe East legislator Sarah Mahoka said Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Happyton Bonyongwe should advocate that they be allowed to import vehicles and farm equipment duty-free.
“I do not want to repeat what has already been said. Those who have appreciated have done so on our behalf. My concern is that the money, yes, we have seen the document. I have stood up on the issuance of duty-free certificates.
“Some of our vehicles are down and dilapidated. May the Minister stand in for us so that we may have those duty free certificates? Some Honourable Members are farmers and others are in business and would like to buy their personal vehicles.
“We are requesting for duty-free certificates. I thank you for understanding us and we hope our plea will be addressed favourably just as this one,” said Mahoka.
Meanwhile, Buhera West legislator Oliver Mandipaka said legislators are not greedy as is being portrayed in the media, but they are dedicated to representing their constituencies in Parliament.
“I realise that when matters are written in the media, a lot of questions are raised particularly when you are talking about our welfare. There appear to be some differences amongst our people who seem to think that we are here to look for money. No, that is not the case. We want to represent them.
“We are not greedy at all but we are dedicated so that we can come here and raise the concerns of the people to the Government. We do that here in this House.
“What has been transpiring is that we were using our own resources to cater for the constituents because we are dedicated to representing them. What we are requesting shall not be misconstrued to mean that we are a greedy lot. That is not the truth and it should be clear to the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
By Buhle Tshavango