By Veneranda Langa
About 27 local MPs are reportedly stranded in Guangdong Province, China, after they went on a shopping visit to Beijing and missed their Harare flight last week.
The MPs, drawn from both Zanu PF and MDC-T, were said to have organised the shopping trip to Beijing on their own without the involvement of Parliament administration.
Sources who travelled with the legislators, but preferred anonymity, said the stranded MPs got overwhelmed with China and decided to travel to Guangdong Province for further shopping after they were enticed by cheaper prices in that part of the Asian country.
Makoni South MP Mandi Chimene (Zanu PF) was said to be the leader of the delegation and had advised the delegation not to travel to Guangdong as it was very far from Beijing.
However, the now stranded MPs who included Kwekwe Central MP Masango Matambanadzo were said to have ignored Chimene’s advice and travelled to Guangdong Province by high-speed bullet trains.
Other names of the stranded MPs were not yet known by the time of going to print.
“We tried to persuade them not to travel to Guangdong as it is very far and they did not have enough money, but they did not listen,” the source who travelled with the team said.
“The MPs had met some businesspeople in Beijing who often travel to China to buy buses and other vehicles and they were told that Guangdong had cheaper goods and they got carried away.”
The source added: “They did not have enough money and now they are stranded. We do not know where they are sleeping, what they are eating and how they will come back.”
The high-speed bullet train tickets from Beijing to Guangdong were said to have cost about $150.
Guangdong province is in South China and the distance between Beijing and Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province, is about 2 294 kilometres in railway length.
A flight from Beijing to Guangdong takes about three hours and 10 hours by bullet train.
Some of the MPs who were said to have heeded Chimene’s calls not to proceed to Guangdong and managed to make it back on time for the return flight were MDC-T Harare West MP Jessie Majome and a traditional leader from Matabeleland who was not named.
“They decided to take the high-speed bullet train to Guangdong and failed to make it back on time to Beijing to catch the plane. Only one Matabeleland chief who had travelled with them to Guangdong managed to catch the plane. We used Air Zimbabwe and the next plane will be on July 10. I do not know how they will be faring until the 10th and how they will pay for the trip back as they did not have enough money,” the source said.
MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese said: “I was not involved in organising the trip, so I wouldn’t know which MPs from our party travelled with the team. Chimene should have full details since she was the head of delegation.”
However, both Chimene and Zanu PF Chief Whip Joram Gumbo could not be reached for comment last night.
Parliament sittings resume today and the 27 legislators will miss sessions in both Senate and the National Assembly. NewsDay