SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe: Treasury Gives Legislators U.S.$9 Million Present

State media reported Friday that the Treasury had 'written off' the US$9 million it had given to parliamentarians under a 2009 loan scheme to buy cars. 300 legislators received US$30,000 each but appeared to have made no attempt to pay the loans back.

The MP's said that until they were given their outstanding 'sitting' allowances they could not pay off the loans.

Responding to a parliamentary query this week about the sitting allowances, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said: "We wrote off the US$30,000 loan for the motor vehicles even though the law says you must pay (back). Last year we gave you that bonus, which I shall not mention, otherwise it will be written in the papers."

He was referring to the fact that in December last year the Treasury deposited US$15,000 into each of their accounts.

The parliamentarians' welfare committee chairperson, ZANU PF's Paddy Zhanda said: "There was no such thing as car loans because this was in exchange of what they owed us. We are owed more than what we have been given. Besides, why should we buy vehicles on behalf of Government for Government business, yet ministers have bought themselves several cars, including ministry vehicles?"

He said it was irrelevant that before the unity government legislators repaid car loans under the revolving fund.

In most countries, what is happening here is referred to as the gravy train.

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