BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) have demanded personal chauffeurs to drive them around while performing their legislative duties.
This was suggested in the National Assembly by Vungu MP Omega Sibanda (Zanu PF) while contributing to a motion on condolence messages on the passing on of Gokwe-Kabuyuni MP Leonard Chikomba who died in a car crash in June.
“It is quite painful that we have people who pass away because of fatigue while driving. It is a long journey, driving alone at night without an assistant driver after spending the day working. If you encounter a tyre puncture, no one will be able to assist,” Sibanda said.
“I believe that it is important that MPs have assistant drivers. Some members drive very long distances alone day and night doing constituency visits and other parliamentary duties. If at all our welfare was being given the right attention, I believe that MPs would be coming to this House without any challenges.”
Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) concurred saying government should emulate what other countries do in supporting their legislators.
“We must have personal drivers, personal assistants and offices in our constituencies, or at the Parliament of Zimbabwe. I went to the Parliament of South Africa and I saw a marvel. I spoke to (Finance minister) Mthuli Ncube saying we must copy what is happening in other countries.
“You find Speakers of Parliament having three drivers because sitting long hours in that august chair is quite painful; you need at least three drivers, a driver should not drive for eight or 24 hours without being relieved. A driver should drive for four hours,” Chinotimba said.
MDC Alliance proportional representation MP Lwazi Sibanda said Chikomba died because his vehicle was not serviced, adding: “The Finance minister should give MPs enough money to service their vehicles to avoid untimely deaths like that of Chikomba. Salaries paid to MPs are not worth it. The road I travel in Tsholotsho is bad and might result in accidents.”
Responding to the issue of MPs’ welfare, Ncube said: “I am going to propose that we increase the budget for Parliament so as to take care of the welfare of members of this august House. I will also propose that the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders should work with Treasury so that we implement information centres for MPs and ensure that the constituency visit allowances are released on time, backdated to January.”