18 March 2017

Zimbabwe: Broke Govt to Pay MPs Using Stands

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe parliament (file photo).

GOVERNMENT has set plans to settle debts owed to legislators in terms of allowances with residential stands, Local Government Minister Saviour Kasukuwere has revealed.

Kasukuwere was responding to Matebeleland South Senator Sithembile Mlotshwa during the upper house's question and answer session on Thursday.

Mlotshwa had asked the minister if government had plans to also afford MPs residential stands as was the case with various groups throughout the country that were receiving stands from government.

In his response, Kasukuwere said his ministry was in talks with the finance ministry to make sure monies owed to legislators could be replaced with stands.

"We are aware that some of our Senators and Members of the National Assembly are owed some money and it is in that context that when we discussed with Honourable Minister Chinamasa and two Chief Whips from the two political formations, we agreed that, there could be a process of netting off what Members of Parliament are owed by Government.

"In turn, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will make available that financial support for us so that at least we can service the land," Kasukuwere said.

The Zanu PF political commissar said land has been identified along Enterprise road in Harare where MPs would each be allocated stands.

He said it would be more expensive if government were to service stands located in each MP's preferred area, hence the decision to service one single piece of land.

Kasukuwere added; "...We are already in the process of raising funding alongside with the civil service housing scheme so that we accommodate our Senators and Members of the National Assembly.

"Everyone of us would love to have a property in Harare but it is also very expensive for my Ministry on its own without the sufficient financial support to get it started.

"However, we are in contact and discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development who have assured us that we will get the relevant support to service the land."

Some of the lands that have been identified and designated for MPs' accommodation are in Manyame, Chishawasha area, as well as Norton.

In Bulawayo, land has been identified in Umvutsha which already has a housing scheme going on.

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped and heavily indebted government is now trying to use housing stands to appease its bloated workforce which is owed millions in unpaid 2016 bonuses.

Civil servants recently rejected an attempt by government to substitute their outstanding 13th cheques with stands, although the option remains open for government to incentivise a workforce that has not received a pay hike for years.

The government has also dangled stands to Zanu PF youths in what party critics claim was a vote buying gimmick ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.

The deal has been met with scepticism by its intended beneficiaries who fear they may be left in the lurch by a broke government which may not have enough funds to service the properties after all.

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