Govt splurges US$21m on legislators' vehicles

Govt splurges US$21m on legislators' vehicles
Published: 25 June 2019 (145 Views)
TREASURY splashed over $20 million on top-of-the-range vehicles for Members of Parliament and Senators in the ninth Parliament, which the recipients will start receiving this week.

Government acquired Toyota Hilux double cabs valued between US$40 000 and US$60 000 each.

Considering the bicameral Parliament has a total of 350 MPs and Senators, at least $21 million would be spent on the legislators in hard currency.

According to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Ziyambi Ziyambi, legislators will start receiving their vehicles this week.

"We finalised the issue of vehicles, legislators will start to receive their cars by the end of this week. From my understanding they are getting Toyota double cabs," Ziyambi said.

"If someone wants a bigger one, he has to top up."

During the eighth Parliament, the lawmakers were mostly given Ford Rangers valued at $35 000 with those requiring vehicles valued above that having to top up on their own.

The purchase of the off-road monsters is likely to raise a lot of dust for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration which has been calling for belt-tightening measures to revive the country's economy.

Government is often accused of unbridled profligate spending on perks for ministers and other government officials while turning a blind eye to the plight of ordinary citizens who are wallowing in poverty.

In December last year, MPs from both the MDC and Zanu-PF arm-twisted under-pressure Finance minister Mthuli Ncube into agreeing to their demands for luxury cars - making this a part of their conditions to pass Ncube's much-criticised national budget.

Legislators demanded Toyota Land Cruisers that are valued between US$70 000 and US$180 000 each.

Critics have previously urged government to shun imports when acquiring vehicles for public servants, to preserve the little foreign currency in the formal banking system.

Some have even suggested government should purchase its vehicles from the struggling Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI), to stimulate local production.

WMMI, the country's largest car assembly plant, is currently struggling under the weight of crippling debts and declining sales volumes that has put more than 200 jobs at risk.

In 2013, Parliament's portfolio committee on State Enterprises and Parastatals Management recommended an urgent bail-out for the firm, but the calls seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
 
Although the company has vast machinery at its disposal, there is no production taking place and the workshops are deserted, leaving the company with no option but to pay idle workers and other unavoidable fixed costs.

Despite a strong Buy Zimbabwe lobby, bigwigs in government, including MPs, prefer to spend on top-of-the-range vehicle imports.

- dailynews

Tags: Vehicles,
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