Lloyd Gumbo and Gamuchirai Chinamasa
GOVERNMENT lost over US$1 million after Treasury “unprocedurally” paid US$15 000 sitting allowances to some Members of Parliament and individuals not entitled to the perks.
The beneficiaries include ministers and expelled and deceased legislators.
Treasury deposited the funds into the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs’ account for disbursement.
All lawmakers were in December last year given a flat US$15 000 in sitting allowances, without calculating their dues individually.
This was despite the fact that some of the legislators were entitled to only US$375.
Lawmakers were overpaid by US$582 675, while Senators were unduly paid US$298 200.
Weeklong investigations by The Herald revealed that some members of the executive, mostly from MDC-T, got the allowances that were a preserve of Parliamentary backbenchers.
Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma said Parliament had since informed the Office of the President and Cabinet of the anomaly.
He said the Ministerial and Parliamentary Salaries and Allowances Act did not entitle ministers to Parliamentary sitting allowances.
“Ministers are not entitled to Parliamentary sitting allowances because their salaries and allowances are catered for in their ministries even for their Parliamentary business,” Mr Zvoma said.
Treasury, the parliamentary welfare committee and the Ministry of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs administered the allowances.
These were allowances covering three years from 2008 to 2011 and were paid at the rate of US$75 per sitting.
“To start with, any payments should have been premised on the number of sittings each legislator had, for a lump sum to be paid without regard to the number of sittings boggles the mind because that should never have been done.
“Any payments for Parliamentary business should have been done through Parliament. This was a violation of the rules, which resulted in mismanagement of public funds,” said Mr Zvoma.
Previously, the administration of allowances was done by Parliament but the Finance Ministry has by-passed the arrangement since the inception of the inclusive Government.
After reconciliations of the number of sittings each legislator attended, it was discovered that some of them had been overpaid, while others were underpaid.
Mr Zvoma said Parliament’s Standing Rules and Orders Committee had resolved that MPs’ allowances would be calculated against the US$15 000 they received.
“However, it will be difficult to recover the money from ministers because they don’t claim anything from Parliament, while for the deceased and those who were expelled . . . the onus should be on those who gave them the money to recover it,” said Mr Zvoma.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Eric Matinenga, yesterday distanced his ministry from the boob.
“My ministry had nothing to do with those allowances except to disburse the money,” he said.
“As for the ministers who benefited from the allowances, I can’t comment because that was handled by the Office of the President and Cabinet.” He added.
Government could recover the money from the deceased from their estates while mechanisms could be put in place to ensure expelled MPs remit the difference.
The former MPs who received the US$15 000 allowances are Mr Abedinico Bhebhe, who is now the MDC-T’s deputy organising secretary, Mr Njabuliso Mguni and Mr Norman Mpofu.
Documents seen by The Herald show that Mr Bhebhe was only entitled to US$3 150, Mr Mguni US$2 625 while Mr Mpofu’s dues were US$2 850.
Some of the deceased MPs were entitled to less than US$5 000 but US$15 000 was deposited into their accounts.
Members of the executive from the MDC-T who unprocedurally got the money include Ministers Tendai Biti (Finance), Elton Mangoma (Energy and Power
Development), Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (Water Resources Development and Management), Lucia Matibenga (Public Service) and Tapiwa Mashakada (Economic Planning and Investment Promotion).
Other Ministers are Theresa Makone (Home Affairs), Giles Mutsekwa (National Housing and Social Amenities), Eric Matinenga (Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs), Heneri Dzinotyiwei (Science and Technology), Jameson Timba (Prime Minister’s Office), Paurina Mpariwa (Labour and Social Welfare) and the late Public Service Minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro.
Deputy Ministers who got the allowances include Gift Chimanikire (Mines and Mining Development) and Jessie Majome (Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community
Members of the executive from Zanu-PF who got the allowances are Minister Walter Mzembi (Tourism and Hospitality Industry), Health and Child Welfare Deputy Minister Douglas Mombeshora and State Enterprises and Parastatals deputy minister Walter Chidhakwa.
From the MDC, the beneficiaries were Minister David Coltart (Education, Sport, Arts and Culture) and Higher and Tertiary Education Deputy Minister Lutho Tapela.
Parliamentarians welfare committee secretary, Cde Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (Mwenezi East-Zanu-PF), said his committee had only submitted names of backbenchers.
“I think Government will find a way to make sure the money is restituted from those who unduly benefited,” Cde Bhasikiti said.
Minister Biti could not be reached for comment.