By Costa Nkomo
LEGISLATORS from across the political divide have demanded to be allocated special fuel service stations to access the commodity claiming they were unable to attend parliamentary business because of continued shortages in the precious liquid.
The fuel crisis in Zimbabwe has persisted for months with the Deputy Minister of Energy Magna Mudyiwa informing MPs this week that Treasury had no funds to pay importers who had fuel bonded in Msasa, Harare.
However, the MPs want to be afforded some preferential treatment through accessing fuel under the proposed arrangement.
Zanu PF Chimanimani East MP, Joshua Sacco told parliament that MPs deserved special fuel allocation because most of them were from rural areas making travelling to Harare for parliamentary business and to visit constituencies difficult.
“My point is that the bulk of Members of Parliament here come from rural constituencies and we are failing to get fuel to attend Parliament. Our role is to represent the people,” said Sacco.
“Our role also is of oversight and we travel long distances weekly. So, is it possible to have a designated filling station for Honourable Members of Parliament because this is impacting negatively on our role as Members of Parliament?”
Other MPs were of a different opinion with MDC Zengeza West MP, Job Sikhala saying the lawmakers should not be given special treatment, but face the same hardships affecting ordinary citizens.
“Why? We must suffer like all citizens,” Sikhala said.
However, Sacco would not take Sikhala’s suggestion lightly, telling the MDC MP that he should not make any contribution to the debate as he stayed in Harare.
“I am raising this issue Honourable Speaker Sir because not all of us live in Harare like Sikhala. Honourable Sikhala, we come from rural constituencies,” Sacco said, forcing the Speaker of Parliament to intervene and ordering the Zanu PF MP to address Sikhala as an honourable member.
“Order! Hon. Member, you address another Hon. Member correctly. He is Hon. Sikhala,” said Mudenda.
Turning to the issue of special fuel allocations for MPs, Mudenda said although it was a welfare issue, it should also look into the welfare of the electorate.
“It is important that when we advance our welfare it should be contextualised to the welfare of the electorate as well,” said Mudenda.
“So this issue must be viewed as a national problem where, as Members of Parliament, we can impress it upon the Honourable Minister responsible to ensure that there are sufficient supplies of fuel, not only for the Members of Parliament but also for the nation as such.”
However, in the Senate, Deputy Senate President Michael Nyambuya told Deputy Minister Energy Mudyiwa that MPs were going through difficult times as they had no access to fuel and the Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda was working on finding a service station from which MPs could access fuel easily.
“It would be very useful Minister (Mudyiwa) if you could make an arrangement to have a service station where you can put fuel and the Honourable Members can go with their coupons and draw fuel. Knowing you, I am sure you can arrange something,” said Nyambuya.
In response, Mudyiwa said she could only have the chance to help the MPs if they were using fuel coupons from Petrotrade service stations, which is government owned.
“Thank you Mr. President for that idea that the Clerk of Parliament is working on trying to get a service station where Honourable Members can get fuel.
“As a ministry, we have Petrotrade and it is the one which we control. It is the one which we can give directives on what they can do because they were under our ministry.
“So Parliament has to come, we sit down with the Ministry and we talk. If you could get coupons from Petrotrade, we could make arrangements that you get fuel,” said Mudyiwa.