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to rake in US$300 per day for constitution outreach
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
January 29, 2010
Over 300 MP's and
Senators will rake in between US$65 and US$300 per day in allowances
for participating in a 65 day outreach programme that is meant to
collect people's views on a new constitution. Last week we
reported how the process had been suspended because of squabbles
over funding and the composition of a team of rapporteurs who will
gather public opinion.
It now turns out donors
were ready to pull the plug on funding the process after the political
parties insisted on increasing the number of MP's from about
50 to include almost all 300 legislators in the lower and upper
houses of Parliament. This meant the bill for the process ballooned
overnight, much to the annoyance of the donors. The donors had pledged
around US$16 million while the government last year said had set
aside US$43 million.
In an interview with
the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper Douglas Mwonzora a co-chair of
the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) tried to justify
the hike in costs. "Originally not all House of Assembly members
and Senators were part of the outreach programme but the management
committee decided to include all legislators in order to enhance
accessibility in all areas, and all this has the effect of increasing
the allocated budget," Mwonzora said.
The donors who include
the United Nations Development Fund also expressed concern at the
way money availed for the process has been used so far. During a
workshop for members of civil society and political parties hosted
in Harare nearly 1000 delegates pitched up instead of 600. ZANU
PF youths and war veterans took advantage of the chaos to cash in
on allowances. Donors furious at this refused to pay the hotel bill
and said they would not cough up the US$40 daily allowances claimed
Another revelation was
that Parliament wanted to hire the same cars it bought for the MP's
under the Vehicle Loan Scheme and pay a rate of US$1 per kilometer
when private car rental firms charged 60 cents per kilometer. An
MDC cabinet minister who spoke to Newsreel on Friday denied the
stories about MP's milking the process. The source said ZANU
PF was manipulating the media to discourage people from participating
in the drafting of a new constitution.
members from the MDC-T or MDC-M are not being given a voice in the
state media. They are only given space when the stories are negative.
Only Paul Mangwana the other co-chair from ZANU PF is used for ZBC
interviews and the like. ZANU PF has hijacked this process and are
using their media monopoly to get the discredited Kariba
draft - somehow. The media is not investigating these issues
but is instead focusing on trivial issues around funding and the
like," the Minister said.
Despite some of these
reservations Mwonzora told journalists that the constitution making
process was back on track. He said agreement had been reached on
the issue of rapporteurs. "We have agreed to have professionals
as our rapporteurs to make sure there are limited chances of irregularities,"
he said. Mwonzora also said the funding challenges had since been
addressed with the UNDP committing itself to the project.
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