PARLIAMENT will splash more than US$9 million in the acquisition of new vehicles for MPs elected on March 29, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Information obtained from parliamentary sources revealed that each of the 303 lawmakers would be entitled a vehicle worth up to US$30 000 bought by government.
There are 210 members of the House of Assembly and 93 senators. This excludes the speaker of the House of Assembly and the president of Senate, who would also be entitled to vehicles and other benefits.
Parliament is required to acquire all-terrain vehicles through the Member of Parliament Vehicle Revolving Fund – a scheme through which MPs can easily purchase vehicles and then repay the house through deductions on their salaries.
Austin Zvoma, the Clerk of Parliament, told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that the house was in the process of gathering information on the models and costs of vehicles that would be acquired for the lawmakers.
“At the moment we are still gathering information as to how many of the legislators want cars because we do not know who amongst the legislators wants a car,” Zvoma said. “We are also working on the type of cars they want and also the cost of those cars.”
He said once the information is gathered, parliament will approach Treasury with an application for foreign currency, a request he said depended on the country’s hard currency reserves at the time.
“The Treasury is the one that will tell us whether it can give us the money as a lump sum or the money will be released in tranches,” Zvoma said.
An impeccable parliamentary source said it was likely that the house and Treasury would work with the US$30 000 per vehicle figure.
“The figure that is there at the moment is US$30 000 for a single vehicle that parliament is going to pay for for either a member of the House of Assembly or a senator,” the source said.
“The figure is subject to review given that there is sentiment that vehicle prices have gone up in the last few months. We are likely to pay more than US$40 000 for each car, which then takes that budget to more than US$12 million.”
The cost of the vehicles ranges between US$9 180 000 and US$12 240 000 if calculating on the basis of US$30 000 and US$40 000 per individual legislator. The legislators were expected to choose between Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and Toyota Vigo are all-terrain models.
The source said the expectation was that such vehicles could traverse any terrain, therefore making life easier for the legislators to access their constituencies.
Some of the roads leading to the constituencies are in bad shape and needed a serious facelift.
“Given the foreign currency (constraints faced by the country), parliament has had to approach the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for the release of the money. After all, the RBZ is the custodian of the foreign currency and that is the body that has the ability to give us the money that is wanted for these cars,” another source said.
The sources also revealed that the MPs were expected to pay an extra amount of money should they opt for vehicles whose cost exceeds the stipulated range.
“There are some who have opted for the latest Mercedes Benz, Isuzu and Toyota moels. These legislators have the ability to top up because they run businesses,” the source said. “There are those that have no other source of income and these have opted to get vehicles whose upkeep is low.”
The legislators would also get travelling and substance allowances whenever they come for parliamentary sessions in Harare.
The sources said rates for travelling would be in line with those of the Automobile Association of Zimbabwe (AAZ).
A legislator from Bulawayo who travels more than 440 kilometres to Harare, according to AAZ rates pegged at $48,34 per kilometre, would be expected to receive $21 269 for a single trip.
Zvoma said parliament would soon gazette the salaries and sitting allowances for the MPs.
“These allowances will be gazetted in the Government Gazette. We are just making consultations with the relevant bodies to see how far these allowances and salaries can go given the prevailing circumstances,” Zvoma said.
Parliament is also working on the construction of a new parliament building to house the bigger number of legislators, which was brought about by Constitutional Amendment No18.
Already, a contract for the construction of the building has been awarded to a Chinese company. The designs for the building were done by companies owned by Zanu PF members, Joel Biggie Matiza and Daniel McKenzie Ncube.
By Nkululeko Sibanda