MDC Alliance MPs who went to Parliament on a pro-poor campaign ticket were this week part of hundreds of parliamentarians who blew $5 million at the resort town of Victoria Falls in the name of pre-budget conferencing.

By Sibanengi Dube, Our Reader

Air tickets, five-star hotel rooms, three course meals, allowances and single malt whiskies seem to have taken precedence on the legislators’ list of priorities.

As to why other affordable venues were discarded in favour of Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most expensive venues, is difficult to imagine. Maddening poverty currently gripping Zimbabwe should have been used by the MDC to morally justify a boycott of the conference, while demanding a cheaper venue for the event.

Such superfluous expenditure came at a time State hospitals are operating with neither doctors nor painkillers. Medical doctors are pleading poverty to the extent of failing to raise busfares to go to work, while the government can’t afford to import even painkillers because of “sanctions”. The same government without money for painkillers then ropes in the MDC to join a week-long spending spree in Victoria Falls. If this is not madness, then one should assist me to find an appropriate term for it.

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Zanu PF is being consistent here. It has nothing to lose by displaying a DNA which it has always exhibited since 1980. MDC Alliance parliamentary chief whip, Prosper Mutseyami, missed a political penalty shoot-out here.

Mutseyami should have declined to lead his colleagues to an opulent feeding trough, sponsored by starving and bare-footed taxpayers, who can’t even afford a satchet of coarse salt.

A three-star hotel or B&B only facility on the outskirts of Harare would have done the trick, than splashing taxpayers’ cash on parties, air tickets, cruises and crossborder shopping escapades.

Do these charlatans expect citizens to believe that only Victoria Falls is good enough to accommodate them as they carry out their parliamentary responsibilities? Only a fool would commit such resources to extravagance before even fulfilling a single essential on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model.

The MDC is now skating on thin high moral ground for accepting an invitation to dip their fingers in the cookie jar in the name of attending parliamentary duties. These chaps are constantly testing the patience of the poor people. The late Morgan Tsvangirai’s parliamentary red brigade are short-minded and appear to have conveniently thrown away their scripts to make ends meet.

MDC MPs should by now have raised their profiles beyond the seduction of mammon, stipends or allowances. A $3 200 attendance fee, fuel coupons and air tickets were enough for MDC MPs to throw away their hymn books and start singing Zanu PF tunes.

What about all the election rhetoric of being pro-poor and keeping the Zanu PF government under check? This was a missed opportunity to show solidarity with the suffering population. They instead chose to enjoy the trappings of power.

Shockingly, one senior MDC chap I spoke to seemed convinced that the fruitless expenditure incurred was consistent with their “strategic” contributions at the conference. He believes that their contributions helped to put the interests of the poor in Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s upcoming budget. Since when has Zanu PF started factoring in MDC contributions to the national agenda? Did the MDC MPs’ presence in Victoria Falls change anything?

One would have anticipated the MDC to push for a pre-budget consultative meeting around the country in the run-up to the budget presentation so as to get public input, instead of jumping at the slightest opportunity to nibble marinated fillet and sip cold beers and fresh drinks in a bushy resort as the poor famish.