SW Radio Africa (London)

11 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Ministers Demand Hefty Exit Packages

The government has said it has no money to hold the constitutional referendum or the elections and is appealing to the international community for help. Most hospital, prisons and government schools around the country are not functioning properly, while roads and social services are in great need of repair.

But Cabinet ministers are demanding hefty exit packages, including top-of-the range vehicles, houses and residential stands before the end of the coalition government in elections. The ministers say they have worked hard with a low salary for four and a half years.

But Masimba Kuchera, an economic analyst and a board member with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development, said it is surprising that the ministers who run the government and have said the state is cash strapped are now "make these astronomical demands on the fiscus."

"I don't think it's morally acceptable. I don't think it's something that is economically sustainable and unfortunately, for most of them, is deserved anyway," Kuchera told SW Radio Africa

MP's are also demanding their sitting allowances of around $30,000 per person, which they say is owed to them by government. Paddy Zhanda, chairman of the Lawmakers' Welfare Committee, said: "We are not demanding anything but only requesting what is being owed to us."

He said it will be difficult for some of the legislators to demand their monies if they are not re-elected.

There are about 40 ministers including the President, Prime Minister and their deputies in government, while the House of Assembly, which normally sits 210 lawmakers, currently has about 190 MPs, as some were suspended or have died.

Kuchera said some of the legislators abused the Constituency Development Fund and, 'for them to say now they want their $30,000 when they abused the taxpayers' $50,000 is disrespectful to the taxpayers."

He said they should be properly rewarded for the work that they are doing but that some of them are not performing well, adding: "Apart from the 5 year cycle of elections we should also have ways of rating our MPs to see if they are working well."

Meanwhile, the Standard newspaper reports that traditional chiefs are also set to receive new cars 'under the chiefs' vehicle revolving fund, which has been largely dormant for the past few years'. Chiefs' council leader, Fortune Charumbira, insisted it was nothing to do with ZANU PF buying their loyalty but that it was similar to the parliamentary vehicle loan scheme and each chief will pay back the full cost of the vehicle. He told the newspaper that 180 of the 227 chiefs countrywide were yet to receive cars.

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