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Mthuli Ncube under fire

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has come under heavy fire after signalling his intention to acquire vehicles for the country's lawmakers as well as paying the thirteenth cheque for government's strong civil service.

While speaking on the state of the economy in Bulawayo last week at pre-budget seminar for parliamentarians, Ncube promised to purchase vehicles for members of the National Assembly and Senate who number up to 30.

"I am on the side of making sure that you get your vehicles, but we have been debating as to whether we give you a 100 percent loan, partial loan or zero loans so we have that action on the table but either way vehicles are on the way," he said, while addressing legislators who are gathered in Bulawayo for the 2019 pre-budget seminar on Thursday.

Former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had previously indicated that government would in future give legislators free vehicles during their five-year tenures, departing from the current regime where Members of Parliament pay for their vehicles through their sitting allowances.

But last month government had indicated that they were not going to buy legislators cars soon as they were still fighting cholera epidemic.

MPs from both the ruling party and the opposition had described the decision as a "travesty" of justice, saying they were entitled to the vehicles.

Outspoken and independent legislator for Norton Temba Mliswa led the chorus of disapproval over the decision saying it was wrong for government to suspend the MPs' entitlements simply because there was a disease outbreak.

Under the Parliamentary Vehicle Loan Scheme, Treasury purchases the cars for the MPs; who in turn pay back the money as a loan during their five-year tenure in the National Assembly.

Generally, the legislators buy the brand new, all-terrain SUVs for a song - as the repayment terms are extremely friendly and flexible.

Zimbabwe has more than 350 MPs despite having a relatively small population of just over 15 million people.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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