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Parly faces financial woes
Takunda Maodza, The Herald (Zimbabwe)
September 23, 2009

http://www.herald.co.zw/inside.aspx?sectid=10435&cat=1

The Parliament of Zimbabwe is broke and owes service providers more than US$400 000 in unpaid bills, a situation that seriously threatens the current constitution-making process.

Parliament’s administration has since engaged Treasury for assistance.

Clerk of Parliament Mr Austin Zvoma yesterday confirmed the legislature was facing financial problems.

"Parliament owes more than US$400 000 to service providers. You cannot say we are broke. Our operations are not based on generating income," he said.

Mr Zvoma said Parliament’s demands "far outweighed resource allocation."

He said they were indebted to service providers such as hotels and Air Zimbabwe.

Parliament is responsible for the expenses incurred by MPs whenever they are on official business and these include airfares and other transport costs, hotel bookings and meals.

Parliament recently paid more than US$10 000 in bills for the Speaker of the House of Assembly Mr Lovemore Moyo’s stay in the five-star Meikles Hotel in Harare.

Mr Moyo was staying in the hotel whenever he came to Harare on official business after Parliament failed to find him "suitable" accommodation.

Parliament is now renting a house for him at US$1 800 a month.

The liquidity problems have affected the constitution-making process and last week co-chairperson of the constitution select committee Mr Douglas Mwonzora implored industry to chip in.

Parliament is not the only institution experiencing financial difficulties as the Government as a whole continues to face budgetary constraints which have impacted negatively on key operations.

Sources yesterday said Parliament’s woes were a result of inadequate funding from Treasury since the institution has not not received all the money allocated in the 2009 national budget.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti set aside US$7 102 200 for Parliament’s operations in March, but it is understood that less than half of the amount had been released.

The sources said the financial situation has seen Parliament failing to carry out some of its urgent business such as portfolio committee meetings.

Portfolio committees play an oversight role over the Executive to ensure Government departments and other public sector organisations stick to their mandates.

However, Mr Zvoma dismissed these claims, saying the committees were not meeting because Parliament was not in session.

"The reason they are not sitting is because Parliament has adjourned because the current session has ended," he said. Government’s budgetary constraints have been largely attributed to the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by Western nations resulting in Zimbabwe failing to obtain meaningful lines of credit and economic aid for the past decade.

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