The three principals in Zimbabwe's national unity government have said Parliamentarians should be paid allowances in arrears going back to 2008 and totaling US$3.3 million, in response to threats by the legislators not to pass the 2012 national budget.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said Wednesday that he, President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai now believe it would be unfair not to pay overdue allowances – in some individual cases amounting to US$12,000.
However, the Harare government has not set aside funds for such payouts. The principals said last month that the government was too broke to pay them.
Mutambara said Finance Minister Tendai Biti will be asked to look for funds to pay the lawmakers. Biti could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mutambara said lawmakers used their own money to carry out legislative duties starting in 2008, and therefore it is only fair to pay them outstanding allowances. “This will ensure that the three pillars of the state are strong and effective,” he said.
Edward Mkhosi, chief whip for the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said legislators are waiting to be paid.
Commentator Masimba Kuchera said programs for the poor will suffer as a result.
Elsewhere, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono said the country ought to choose a single currency rather than using a mixture of hard currencies chiefly including the US dollar and euro-linked South African rand, as the global economic downturn is making major world currencies more volatile, Taurai Shava reported from Gweru.