As the government cuts basic state services countrywide, MPs are set to receive a windfall sitting allowance payout dated back to 2008. The demand for a sitting allowance comes amid concern that some of them have been skipping debates after signing attendance, or napping during the proceedings.
However, it is the demand for pensions that has raised eyebrows. Critics say the move shows the legislature's contempt for public opinion.
Zengeza West MDC MP Collen Gwiyo brought the claim to the House and demanded an explanation from the minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs.
"Can the minister also clarify the pensions for Members of Parliament given the situation where terms of office are at times abruptly changed?" Gwiyo asked in reference to the impending termination of the 7th Parliament for fresh polls.
Eric Matinenga replied: "The issue of pensions is an issue which is not within my ministry. It is an issue within the portfolio of another ministry which deals with pensions".
Most 65-year-olds in Zimbabwe do not have pensions. Yet legislators, most of them below 55, want to start collecting a pension for their two years of legislative service. Critics have heavily criticised the demand.
"It's mind-blowing hypocrisy," said social activist, Hopewell Gumbo.
Matinenga said that it was President Robert Mugabe’s responsibility to follow up on the issue of pensions.
“There has been correspondence between the Office of the Speaker and the Office of the President with regards to these very outstanding issues. An amount was suggested of $75 per sitting. Very soon Members of Parliament will be told what is due to them because it is not going to be a standard figure because persons have attended
Parliament on different occasions.”
Zimbabwean legislators have been accused of being too eager to increase their pay and benefits, while about 80 percent of Zimbabweans live on less than a dollar a day, according to government figures.
Anti-corruption campaigners say the legislators demands showed, "total
contempt for public opinion and for a rational assessment of what this
country can afford".
"They are lining their pockets just before an election," said political commentator Ronald Shumba. "Zimbabwe's population is abjectly poor but the government and parliament seem to believe they can continue to live large at the general public's expense."Post published in: News