LEGISLATORS representing rural constituencies now want a special allowance on the premise that they spend several days in Harare without attending to their constituencies, while Harare-based MPs are always able to be with their constituents.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
This was raised on Wednesday by Umzingwane MP Levi Mayihlome (Zanu PF) in the National Assembly as a matter of privilege to the Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda.
If this is implemented, it will mostly benefit Zanu PF legislators who have the majority of constituencies in the rural areas.
Mayihlome’s suggestion did not, however, make any reference to legislators from far-flung urban constituencies, such as Bulawayo, Mutare, Victoria Falls, Plumtree and Beitbridge, which have MPs who also have to travel and spend several days in Harare in order to attend to Parliament business.
He also did not mention how much more he wanted for rural MPs.
“I rise on a point of privilege on an issue which concerns rural constituency MPs, who compared to their counterparts, particularly Harare constituency MPs, have to travel up to 700 kilometres every weekend to their constituencies,” Mayihlome said.
“Friday and Sunday are travelling days to and from Harare and so they only have one day per week to attend to their constituency issues on a daily basis and so it is my humble request that rural MPs be given a special allowance for this difference between the rural and urban constituencies,” he said.
Mudenda’s response was that the issue would be referred to the Parliament Standing Rules and Orders Committee (SROC).
“Yes, that affects the rights and privileges of MPs. Willias Madzimure (Kambuzuma MP) has been so mesmerised by your point of privilege, I do not know why. Let that matter be referred to the SROC,” Mudenda said.
Currently, MPs get sitting allowances of $700 per sitting, which was increased from the previous $75.
They also get fuel coupons whose value depends on the distance an MP travels from their constituency to Harare.
During the duration of their sitting, they also get accommodated at hotels.
While MPs have been very good at demanding a raise to their salaries, some of them — mostly from the rural constituencies — have been mum in Parliament, particularly on issues affecting the rural populace.