By Mugove Tafirenyika
Member of Parliament for Buhera South Joseph Chinotimba has accused administrators at Parliament of fuelling the current price madness in the economy.
This was after the prices at which the lawmakers buy soft drinks and the staple sadza within the Parliament Building went up by significant margins.
On Wednesday, the Buhera South legislator took up the matter to applauses from virtually all MPs across the board.
“Parliament is selling the soft drink Coca-Cola for a $1 and yet Delta did not increase anything.
“In the hotels also where MPs are staying, those same Coca-Cola drinks are being sold at $4 yet again Delta did not increase the price of its products so I lay the blame squarely on the administration of Parliament especially those who are in the administration of (the) welfare of parliamentarians,” Chinotimba.
“Again, here at our members’ dining, we are buying sadza for $3 and Coca-Cola for $4. As Parliament, we are the perpetrators of the increase of these prices. I am begging you to protect MPs,” he pleaded with National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda.
In major retail outlets, a 300 ml bottle of coke goes for anything between 50 cents and 60 cents — including the cost of an empty bottle.
Chinotimba suggested that Parliament do away with those running canteen services at Parliament if they do not revise their prices downwards.
“It is either that we provide our own food or we get alternative service providers,” he said.
Mudenda, however, advised the MPs to put across their complaints through the committee responsible for legislators’ welfare.
“When we want to discuss issues of welfare of MPs, we do that in the Speaker’s Office,” Mudenda said.
“Those issues are purely administrative; therefore if you have queries, come to the Speaker’s office and address all these issues under the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders,” he advised.
Mudenda was apparently unhappy with the applause that Chinotimba received from the House prompting him to lecture them on issues of procedure.
“Some of you are applauding Chinotimba for his contribution but we need to read our Standing Rules and Orders because if you bring that as a motion, it would be rejected because that problem is affecting every Zimbabwean. The issue should be brought to the welfare committee and through the Speaker’s office,” he said.
The allegations come as government is in a desperate bid to contain a potentially worsening economic crisis when it convened an emergency meeting with captains of industry to try and find solutions to the price hikes.
Addressing the media soon after a closed door meeting, Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said government was worried by the recent price increases that have resulted in panic buying and ultimately shortages in the country.
“The main reason for meeting today was to try and interrogate the issue of pricing; we are worried as government that there are numerous price increases from the manufacturer to the consumer.
“What came out from the deliberations is that there are fundamental issues that have to be addressed within the economy. The discussions were frank and open whereby all stakeholders had a chance to make their contributions and we have agreed to convene a similar meeting in the near future.
“We are very worried on the effect of this on the consumer so it’s a myriad of issues that we need to address collectively and we believe in the near future we will be able to come up with a solution,” said Ndlovu. Daily News