By Daniel Chigundu
LEGISLATORS have called for a salary increase arguing that what they are currently getting is not commensurate with the work they are doing and their status in the communities.
The demand, however, comes at a time when government currently has a freeze on salary increase owing to unavailability of funds and the huge wage bill which gobbles about 85 percent of the national budget.
Speaking in the National Assembly Buhera West legislator Oliver Mandipaka said the perks that legislators get are not fair compared to the other arms of government and therefore there is need to revise them.
“…it is high time the authorities revisit the perks of Honourable Members of Parliament (MPs) because you cannot be asked to declare assets where you have nothing at all. You cannot be denied to look for other sources of income because you want to augment the little that you are getting.
“I think it is paramount that the authorities, it could be the executive or the government or the nation at large to understand the problems that MPs face. The perks that we get, in all honesty, are not very fair because the work that we do, we do quite some enormous work for the betterment of the poor in rural areas but look at what we get in turn and nobody seems to care.
“Here we are, we are trying to adopt a code of ethics and I am asked to declare just a scotch-cart or a bull that I have. I have nothing, so, I think it is high time as we adopt the code of conduct; it is high time that the perks of those who are MPs remain honourable as well,” he said.
Despite being one of the three arms of the state, legislators has for some time been the most poorly remunerated of the three arms.
Honourable Mandipaka added that “we must not have a wider difference with the executive and this is what we have to look at. That is why we hear an outcry about the welfare of Members of Parliament.
“It is more important that we keep on talking about our welfare until we become honourable in terms of perks because as of now, we are not honourable at all,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Pelandaba-Mpopoma legislator Joseph Tshuma said there was the need to treat all the arms of the state with equal importance.
“When you come to look at it, in reality, there are only two arms of government that are treated with respect and recognised properly. The other arm seems to be actually weak and powerless and yet this is the very arm that is supposed to be supervising and overseeing all the other arms of government.
“Why are we being short-changed Honourable Speaker in our mandate as Honourable Members of Parliament? You go out of here, in town, you are called honourable but where is the honour when it comes to certain levels. The Executive is treated special than the Honourable Member and the Judiciary is treated more special than the Honourable Member.
“Right now, as I speak Mr Speaker, the executive and the Judiciary, even if you go to their houses now, they are guarded by State police, we are not. That is fair and fine. Look at the perks that they have. They are given one off-road car and another one that is executive and we are not given that. We are meant to pay for what we get to go and service the constituencies that we come from,” he said.