Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Some Members of Parliament are stranded in Harare after the august House failed to secure fuel for them to return to their respective constituencies, Senate heard yesterday.
Although the number of legislators stuck in Harare could not be ascertained yesterday, reports say the most affected were rural legislators who depended on parliamentary allowances to travel to and from their constituencies.
Senators told Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday during question time that most of them have been holed up in hotels while waiting for Parliament to secure fuel coupons for them to return to their constituen- cies.
Manicaland Senator Keresencia Chabuka (MDC-T) said so dire was the situation that they had become a laughing stock not only while attending Parliament, but even back in their constituencies because they were not getting fuel coupons and sitting allowances.
“Most of us are now beggars here in Harare. We are starving. MPs want to go back to their families and constituencies but we are being asked to remain holed up in hotels because there are no fuel coupons. We are not getting sitting allowances. Can’t you close Parliament until the solution is secured,” said Sen Chabuka.
VP Mnangagwa said Government was seized with their challenges, adding that he had already secured a meeting with President Mugabe today to discuss their welfare.
He said he had seen a letter from National Assembly Speaker Advocate Jacob Mudenda on the same subject yesterday upon his return from Italy, where he attended the 9th International Meeting of Justice Ministers on the abolition of the death penalty.
“The issue of challenges faced by MPs is one on the uppermost mind of the Government, including myself. I returned from Rome last night and today I saw a letter from Adv Mudenda on the same issue you referred to. I then called His Excellency President Mugabe this morning. Initially I was told by staff in his office to call later in the afternoon. I eventually talked to him this afternoon at around 1415 hours and we have agreed to meet tomorrow,” said VP Mnangagwa.
Responding to another question on the constitution of provincial councils, VP Mnangagwa there was need to enact the enabling legal statute before that could be done, something that the Government was currently doing.
On another note Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora told the Senate yesterday that Government owed schools in respect of Basic Education Assistant Module to the tune of $64 million but said those learners should not be turned away from school nor should schools withhold their results.
He said no school authority was allowed to withhold school results on account of nonpayment of school fees.
“The agreement is between the parents and the school and not the learner,” said Minister Dokora.
Meanwhile, the General Laws and Amendment Bill and Criminal Procedure and Evidence Amendment Bill were read for the Second time in Senate yesterday.
VP Mnangagwa steered both Bills, which he said were part of Government efforts to allign existing laws with the Constitution.
The two Bills were passed in the National Assembly last week.