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Timing of constituency visit allowances questioned

The introduction of constituency visit allowances for Members of Parliament (MPs) ahead of next year’s harmonised elections has raised eyebrows, with some citizens saying it is a waste of resources.

The allowances are part of measures by the government to cushion civil servants from the harsh economic challenges which have seen the local currency weaken on a weekly basis.

“In the spirit of “Leaving No-One and No Place Behind” in public engagement, the Government has recently introduced a constituency visit allowance to improve close relations between elected officials and their constituents and electorate,” Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube told journalists in Harare Monday.

“Fuel is provided to members in all constituencies irrespective of the distance to their constituencies from the capital city.”

But Zimbabweans who spoke to CITE this week queried the timing.

“This is a sheer waste of scarce national resources,” said political analyst, Mkhululi Tshuma.

“It’s meant to loot the already drained fiscus under the guise of enhancing close relationships between the electorate and the elected representatives. It will mainly benefit ZANU-PF which has more MPs than any other party. Honestly, how can MPs be paid twice for the same job? They get sitting allowances for representing the same people whom they will now be paid for physically going to their places of residence.”

He added: “It shows the government’s misplaced priorities. You cannot be distributing money like confetti to a chosen few at a time when poverty has entrenched itself as an integral part of people within the communities. Government should be ceased by matters that pertain to the improvement of the general livelihoods of its people rather than looting. The fact that such is done on the eve of a harmonised election shows that the government is bent on giving a golden handshake to people who have failed in their mandate of delivering a prosperous nation, something they promised before the 2018 elections. It’s just immoral.”

Sipho Nyoni, a Bulawayo resident said the allowances were not something to write home about.

“These allowances are more of trinkets being doled out to pacify the MPs who, like the average government employee, have been crying about their meagre salaries,” he said.

“The timing is somewhat suspect considering that elections are on the horizon as well. I think that in a way they are meant to augment already poor salaries. So the reality is that the government was afraid to raise the salaries of legislators by more than 109% as this would obviously elicit an outcry from civil servants.”

Effie Ncube another political analyst said: “The populist allowances are not what civil servants want. Instead, they want decent salaries commensurate with their hard work. In the end, while every increase in disposable income is welcome, it is not enough. Workers will likely continue with their struggle for their dignity until they are given the respect which they deserve. They are unlikely to be silenced by these petty allowances.”

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