MPs threaten demonstrations over poor pay
By Kitsepile Nyathi
Harare — Zimbabwe’s Members of Parliament have threatened to hold demonstrations after the minister of Finance refused to review their allowances upwards. The MPs claim their allowances are lower than those of their counterparts in lawless Somalia.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti ignored calls to review civil servants salaries and allowances for MPs in his mid-term budget review last week drawing fire from unions. Zimbabwe is struggling to get donor support for its $2.2 billion budget because Western governments do not have confidence in the coalition government led by President Robert Mugabe.
“Kenyan MPs earn $13,500, Somalia MPs earn $700, our MPs are earning US$350, they are starving, they have not been getting their sitting allowances,” complained Mr. Simba Mudarikwa, an MP from President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. The legislators who are currently leading public hearings that would culminate in a new constitution for the country say they are being forced to smuggle bread to hotels because they cannot afford meals.
“There is nothing for MPs in your statement,” said another MP from Prime Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change. “The minister should be mindful of the plight of MPs. “MPs are starving while they are conducting the (constitution) outreach programme.”
But Mr. Biti who had to revise Zimbabwe’s projected economic growth from 7 percent to 5,4 percent this year said the government was broke. “The government has no money,” he said in response to the demands by the MPs. “MPs and ministers are not any different, some earn $450 while others get $400.”
At times Zimbabwean MPs have suffered the indignity of being thrown out of hotels because of delays to settle bills by government. President Mugabe opened the second session of parliament last week and the legislators are expected to debate at least 20 bills, which are very crucial for the unity government to conclude reforms proposed in the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA). Daily Nation