No tears for ex-MPs

A few months after the dissolution of Parliament last year to pave way for the elections, reports started emerging of how former MPs (I never heard about senators) had hit a rough patch, failing to provide for their basic needs like shelter, food and school fees.

Tawanda Majoni
Tawanda Majoni

My heart twists when the children and families of these so-described honourable members are affected by a drop in income among the breadwinners. I get disturbed when I hear that an MP’s children—and any other children for that matter—are going to bed hungry or suffering the humiliation of late payment of school fees.

I am also aware that the former lawmakers are owed thousands of dollars by Treasury. They should get their money so that, at least, they can cover some gaps where their families’ livelihoods are concerned, and even start income-generating projects to cushion themselves against the current vagaries of Zimbabwean life.

That is as far as my sympathy for the ex-MPs goes. These former MPs who are now finding the going tough after the expiry of their tenure in the Seventh Parliament seem to expect us to cry with them over their plight. But I definitely am not prepared to shed a single tear for them as individuals who were supposed to be at the helm of the legislature.

They argue that government, in addition to paying them their outstanding allowances, must ensure that they continue with a dignified lifestyle. What rubbish! There is hardly anything done during the last parly that would justify their call for veneration. I completely agree with researchers who have described the Seventh Parliament (2008-2013) as the worst that post-colonial Zimbabwe has ever known.

In other words, there is nothing dignified about the way they went about with their business, and not many of us in the masses see anything venerable about them. To start with, how many bills did they pass into law? How many bills did they leave unfinished? How many bills were they supposed to introduce and didn’t. Why?

MPs (and senators) hardly sat and when they did, only a few managed to make meaningful contributions. Just look at the Hansard publications covering that term and you will understand what I am talking about. In fact, there were some who never opened their mouths. I don’t care how they managed to accrue the allowances they are blubbering about, but what I know for certain is that I would not part with a single dime, considering their shoddy output.

Of course, not all the apples were rotten; the problem is that only a few did a good job, particularly in the parliamentary committees. For the five years they were in Parliament, most of the law makers hardly did anything for their constituencies. They made long lists of promises as they campaigned, but produced sorry midgets during their terms of offices, if at all they did anything. While they promised the electorate heaven on earth, a good number of them actually left their constituents worse off. They got busy dipping their dirty fingers into the Constituency Development Fund.

For them to turn around and start whimpering that they have no means to sustain a dignified lifestyle is therefore disgusting. What did they do with the money they took from the CDF jar? I hope they were not busy spoiling their small houses and toy boys with the loot when they were supposed to be uplifting the lives of the communities they represented.

These MPs, most of them opportunistic fly-by-night politicians, must have known that their mandate was to represent their constituencies and contribute to effective legislation, not to make money. Surely, MPs are not recruit staffers for a public service department; they are elected to coordinate welfare interventions relating to the electorate, in addition to law making. If they expected salaries and hefty golden handshakes at the expiry of their terms, they should have known better and applied for jobs at banks or other places.

As I have said in this column in the past, most politicians think that getting into Parliament is the easiest way to jump from rags to riches. This is wrong. The case of the former MPs is a good case in point. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]

Post published in: Analysis

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