Members of Zimbabwe's Parliament are asking the cash-poor national unity government for new vehicles, complaining that the ones they are driving are run down following two years of constituency visits and a demanding constitutional revision process.
Parliamentary Welfare Committee Chairman Paddington Zhanda said members of the House and Senate of the three governing parties have not been able to maintain their vehicles provided through a 2009 spin-off of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe property.
Zhanda said the lawmakers understand that the government is strapped and may not be able to meet their demands, noting that they have not received their sitting and travel allowances since 2008. He said some legislators may resort to public transport.
He said the legislators cannot buy their own cars without state funding.
“Since our salaries are too low and we have not received sitting and travel allowances for more than two years, we can’t expect [a member of Parliament] to buy a vehicle without state assistance,” Zhanda said.
Parliamentarian Thandeko Zinti Mnkandla, who represents Gwanda North, Matabeleland South province, said his car is in bad shape “just like [those of] other lawmakers especially those with rural constituencies where roads are in a very poor state.”
But economist Prosper Chitambara said the government can ill afford new vehicles for its legislators when its financial resources are so limited.
The government is under intense pressure to raise salaries of state workers, but even a modest proposed increase would blow out the budget to a US$400 million deficit.