Lawmakers in Zimbabwe have started receiving outstanding sitting allowances of $15,000 apiece after three years of non-payment by the cash-strapped unity government.
The allowances are backdated to 2008, when the unity arrangement took effect, and the government is urging the legislators to use the money to repay car loans they got from the state.
The Parliamentary Welfare Committee agreed with government after negotiations last year to peg the allowances at $15,000 though some lawmakers argue they are owed more than that.
Each Member of Parliament will now be paid a $75 sitting allowance. But welfare committee chairperson Paddy Zhanda says only 20 legislators have received their dues, adding that many are frustrated by the delay.
Parliamentary Whip Innocent Gonese of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai urged calm among impatient legislators.
Joram Gumbo, the ZANU PF whip commented that the payments will boost morale among lawmakers and improve their performance.
"You must remember that Zimbabwean lawmakers are the least paid in the region - if not the whole of Africa," said Gumbo. "I'm happy that now they will be receiving their allowances. It will sure boost their morale."
Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Eric Matinenga said the allowances are being given to lawmakers to settle their vehicle loans.
The government gave parliamentarians cars worth up to $30,000 each and they have argued they have failed to pay due to lack of funds.