3 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Govt Fails to Pay MPs' Allowances

GOVERNMENT has failed to pay over US$1,6 million owed to Members of Parliament in unpaid sitting and subsistence allowances for 2012. This comes amid indications that Treasury has not instructed

Parliament on how the once-off US$15 000 payments given to each legislator in December 2011 should be accounted for.

According to payment structures agreed, each legislator is entitled to US$75 per sitting and judging by the estimated number of sittings for 2012 and the total number of legislators, the lawmakers should be paid a cumulative US$1,6 million.

The US$15 000 once-off payments did not take into account the number of sittings one had, creating a scenario where one might either be over paid or underpaid.

With barely three months before Parliament is dissolved to pave way for harmonised elections, most legislators fear they might leave the House empty-handed.

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga attributed the non-payment to the fact that payments were being made through Treasury.

He said had Treasury paid through a parliamentary budget, legislators would have been paid sitting allowances premised on the number of days they attended.

"I have not heard anything regarding payment of sitting allowances for 2012. The last payment that was done was not done through the parliamentary budget," said Minister Matinenga.

"Certainly, we would have wanted to regularise the payment of their sitting allowance. We will certainly do that, only if the payment is done through a parliamentary budget. I am not aware that the payment was done in that manner."

Parliamentary welfare committee secretary Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said it was unfair not to pay legislators their dues.

"Certainly, we expect to get paid what is due to us. We also expect that they should communicate to us if the money has been delayed."

Finance Minister Tendai Biti recently told legislators that he had written off their US$30 000 debts arising from vehicles they got under a loan scheme.

He was responding to inquiries from legislators during the 2013 National Budget debate on when they would be paid their sitting allowances.

He told the legislators that they should be grateful for what Treasury was doing for them.

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