Govt, MPs Clash Over Unserviced Legislators’ Housing Stands

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By Stephen Tsamba

THE government and lawmakers are at loggerheads after the state indicated to the legislators it had no funds to service housing stands allocated to them recently with the MPs saying it was “unhonourable’ for them to be homeless.

The houses were allocated to the sitting MPs through the Local Government Ministry as part of an array of lucrative perks and allowances the politicians are receiving during the current Eighth Parliament.

Deputy Local Government Minister Marian Chombo this week told the MPs to fund their own servicing of the residential stands located across the country.

“Right now, we do not have enough financial muscle to be able to do the servicing. In the meantime, we have been in discussion with the Speaker of the House of Assembly (Jacob Mudenda) to see if they can service the stands and hand them over to the Ninth Parliament,” she said.

However, the MPs are not taking any excuses from the government and want the housing stands serviced by the government because they paid for the land.

“Those stands were not for free. We paid for them and the money that we paid was for servicing the land,” outspoken independent Norton MP Temba Mliswa told Chombo.

He said the Local Government Ministry should service the housing stands as a model to the country the ministry does what it says, and failure to do so will put the department headed by July Moyo in bad light.

“Why not use this as a model to the country, that you are a reliable ministry that does what it says? This does not put you in a good light with the public when you cannot honour Honourable Members of Parliament.

“I repeat Members of Parliament where is our honour when we have nowhere to stay? Where is your honour when you are totally dishonouring everything that you say?”

Mliswa also threatened to take the ministry to court if it failed to fulfil its part of the bargain within seven days.

However, some legislators have been pushing they be allocated the unserviced housing stands but the government has refused.

Chombo told the MPs her ministry was having a problem with Caledonia Farm in Goromonzi where thousands of desperate home-seekers were allocated land that was not serviced and the people started building houses.

“I think as parliamentarians you have witnessed that across the board, we have a problem with Caledonia whereby we had given land to people and they started building. Even if you go there today, you will find that they just dug pit latrines and nearby there will be a (water) well. This causes diseases in the rainy season,” she said.

Last year, MPs demanded that they be provided with three-course meals and dessert when attending parliamentary sittings, among other things.

Their list of demands from the government was part of a request for an increase in allowances, which currently sit at $50.

The demands were made during debate on the 2019 national budget.

The MPs also asked they be given diplomatic passports, and credit cards for trips outside of the country.

They have also requested that government provides gym facilities or pay for their membership fees. The MPs also demanded iPads or laptops.

Members of the national assembly also requested top-of-the-range vehicles efficient enough to handle Zimbabwe’s terrain.