Activist pleads with ED to abort physical Parliamentary sessions to cut expenses

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A political activist who fronts the Zimbabwe Alliance of Activists, Lynnette Mudehwe has urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to consider e-parliament to serve the country from spending millions of dollars towards legislators’ allowances.

In a letter addressed to President Mnangagwa,  the activist said this was urgent especially at a time the country is battling with the novel COVID-19 virus.

“As the world grapples with COVID-19 Pandemic bringing the ‘new normal’ of doing business and as a Nation facing terrible economic challenges, I write your esteemed of office with an e-parliament proposal for your serious and urgent consideration.

“Mr President, Parliament meetings are very important and must continue even during lock-downs. This can only be achieved by having Parliamentary sessions using Zoom and other spaces that can accommodate many participants,” she wrote.

She added that the costs of physical parliamentary sessions were not ideal given the prevailing economic conditions

“The costs of holding physical parliamentary sessions in Harare is not proportionate to what the economy produces and that expenditure can be cut down by having e-parliamentary sessions. Mr President , Hansard’s record of Parliamentary proceedings will show you that of the 270 Members of Parliament that we have on any given session less than 20 MPs are participating with the rest warming benches.

“The expenses paid for by tax-payers include sitting allowances, hotel  accommodation,food bill, and fuel for travelling. Mr President at an average of US$100 for each one of the 270 MPs/ day for 5days, Parliament gobbles are whooping US$135 000. Fuel at an average of 100litres of diesel x $1/litre x 270 MPs that is US$27 000. US$162 000/ week is being spent for a meeting that can be done through a Zoom meeting,” adds Mudehwe.

The ZAA leader believes it should not be an uphill task for the ZANU PF leader to implement since he has participated in an African Union Zoom meeting.

Another letter has also been addressed to parliament to consider the proposal and is coming at a time when there has been concern among the citizenry that there seems to be collusion by both the ruling and opposition parties on hefty allowances which bleed the fiscus.