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MPs' Salary Hike Demands Outrageous

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By Malvern Mkudu

Last week’s reports that Members of Parliament are demanding salaries of between $2,000 and $10,000 is sufficient proof that most of the leaders occupying public office are more concerned about self aggrandisement rather than improving the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

This is not the first time that MPs have called for an improvement in their remuneration. They are making these demands despite not having done enough to justify these demands and being aware of the ever shrinking economic cake.

The legislature is supposed to have an oversight role on the Executive arm of government but parliament has fared dismally on this end.

According to Parliament ‘these core functions have evolved over time and in their current form; they mainly comprise legislation, consent to taxation and control of public expenditure, debate on government policy and scrutiny of government administration.’

Parliament has dismally failed in all of these core functions particularly the control of public expenditure. Parliament has rubberstamped successive budgets that spend 92% of revenue on civil servants’ wages. It has presided over a misallocation of public resources where we have seen health for example being less funded than the President’s office.

Lawmakers ought to hold cabinet ministers and government institutions accountable through parliamentary committees but often important issues have been skirted in the House. Cabinet ministers often snub various committee sittings proving that the House is not taken seriously by the Executive arm of government.

Parliament has been quite at key moments of Zimbabwean economic and political life. They have hardly said or done anything about the people marooned by floods in Matabeleland North and South.

In the past, parliamentarians have abused the Constituency Development Fund which is meant to develop their constituencies. Some have converted the money for their own use and have gone unpunished.

Most of these legislators know that they will not be re-elected and have decided to adopt a last supper mentality. Some of them are strangers in their constituencies while others do not even attend parliament sittings. There have been several occasions when there has been lack of quorum in the house resulting in the House prematurely adjourning.

According to Clerk of Parliament, the House spends about $420 000 per sitting but some MPs are known for coming in to sign the register and leaving without debating anything. Others have never uttered a word in the House.

Many of them are farmers or business people and concentrate more on their business operations than the business of parliament. At $10,000 a month, they would have to devote their entire time to parliament and not double dip.

The law makers need to consider that they cannot demand dues that are at par with their regional counterparts who are presiding over working economies.

There is no other country in the region experiencing an acute cash shortage. All the other economies do not have 94% unemployment in their countries.

Parliamentarians must revisit their demands and reconcile them with the economic reality on the ground. Zimbabwe cannot afford to pay exorbitant salaries for its public officials especially in the absence of any justification for these high salaries by those demanding them.

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