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Unpaid Former Lawmakers Seeking Labour Court Help

The current 8th parliament has been allocated almost $900,000 for its operations, including sitting allowances for legislators. (File Photo)

Several former Members of Parliament say they are planning to take government to court following its failure to settle outstanding sitting allowances, a year after the 7th parliament ended its term.

The former legislators, who spoke to Studio 7 on Monday, said the government has informed them that it does not have money to pay the allowances of up to $15,000 each.

One of the former MPs, Thandeko Zinti Mnkandla of Gwanda North, said they are seriously considering taking the matter to the Labor Court as former government employees.

Labour experts say the disgruntled former legislators will win the matter if it is taken to the Labour Court.

Mnkandla told VOA Studio 7 they have tried, without success, to resolve the issue amicably.

“We are left with no choice at all. The Labour Court may resolve this matter as government does not seem to be concerned about our plight,” said the former legislator, who is an educationist.

Former Kariba MP, Cleopas Machacha, said they are slowly losing hope of getting their outstanding allowances.

Machacha said taking the matter to court will raise tensions with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF government.

He said they will continue pushing the government to pay the money even if the state coffers are said to be empty.

Zimbabwe is operating on a shoe-string budget with indications that foreign investment into the country plunged 59 percent to $67 million in the first half of this year, reflecting worries over President Mugabe's policies and the risk of investing in his country.

Zimbabwe's economy is experiencing a serious dollar crunch and electricity shortages. Several companies have failed to pay salaries or have closed altogether, in a country where only 500,000 out of a total 13 million people hold formal jobs.

The economy did return to growth in 2009, after nearly a decade of recession, when Mugabe was forced to share power with his opposition rivals. But his landslide victory last year has coincided with a rapid slowdown.

The government has cut its growth target for this year to 3.1 percent from the previously projected 6.1 percent.