NINE MDC-T lawmakers were arrested on Wednesday after they allegedly besieged the Ministry of Finance in Harare demanding to be allocated Mazda BT50 vehicles they are entitled to.
The MPs, Pishai Muchauraya (Makoni South), Prosper Mutseyami (Musikavanhu), Cephas Makuyana (Chipinge South), Margret Matienga (Sunningdale), Simon Hove Ruweke (Highfield West), Piniel Denga (Mbare), Amos Chibaya (Mkoba), Shepherd Madamombe (Mabvuku-Tafara) and Senator Patrick Chitaka (Nyanga Mutasa), were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station where they were charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace.
The police recorded warned-and-cautioned statements from the legislators and told them that their case would proceed by way of summons before releasing them.
One of the MPs told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that they went to the Ministry of Finance offices to enquire why the ministry had instructed Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries not to release vehicles to them under parliament’s vehicle scheme for lawmakers.
At the offices, the lawmaker said, they were told to wait for Finance secretary Willard Manungo in the boardroom who would address their concerns.
“After a short wait in the boardroom, police officers came in and told us we were under arrest,” the lawmaker said. “They took us to Harare Central Police Station where they recorded warned-and-cautioned statements and released us around 8pm on instruction that we report back at the station in the morning today (yesterday).
When we came in the morning we were advised that our case would proceed by way of summons. They will advise us of our court appearance.
The nine MPs are some of the lawmakers from both MDC formations and Zanu PF yet to be allocated vehicles under a scheme structured by Finance minister Tendai Biti with Willowvale to ease transport problems for the legislators. Willowvale assembles the Mazda BT50 truck.
The scheme was initially rejected by the MPs on the grounds that the vehicles were not durable and that they should be allowed to buy cars of their choice.
Biti came up with this scheme after he ordered MPs to return vehicles they were allocated by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
The minister’s directive was ignored by Zanu PF legislators while some lawmakers in the MDC formations also took Gono’s vehicles.
MDC-T legislators accused the party leaders of double standards by ordering them to return vehicles issued by Gono while various party executives cling on to theirs bought by the same central bank.
The MDC-T officials who got Toyota Landcruisers and Prados from Gono included ministers Theresa Makone, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, Fidelis Mhashu and Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo.
Under the parliamentary vehicle scheme, lawmakers are supposed to select vehicles of their choice, but Biti argued that government could not afford to but any other make of vehicle.