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Parliamentary Monitor: Issue 12
Parliamentary Monitoring Trust (Zimbabwe)
November 23, 2011

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Encounter with the blood sucking aliens

Last week I came face to face with the profligacy of the Members of Parliament, leaving me wondering what Makhosini Hlongwane (Zanu PF Mberengwa East) was trying to put forward moving a motion that they, legislators, be exempt from bills. My encounter with the honourable members, was neither planned nor engaging. I was more of a voyeur, looking at how they go about their business. We were booked at the same hotel, somewhere close to the border with South Africa. Their presence was felt in all the public places at the hotel and one would not mistake the guys for anything else. Anyone could tell that these were politicians. I mean the extravagancy was synonymous with politicians. One thing that was so outstanding was the bus parked outside the hotel. It was a hired bus. It must have been a 65 -80 seater. But the MPs could only number a quarter of that. And as one person (she should be a Parliamentary Monitor) said: “If they were so few, why did they not use a smaller bus, or even use a kombi. Most of those guys were using Kombis before we voted them.” I only smiled. I could not ask another question as she was spot on. On further investigation, I was shocked to hear how the ‘poorly paid’ members of the august house received per day per outing. I could not verify the figure but someone said it was in the region of US$350. While I could not verify the figure, there are a number of reasons which made me believe this figure. The MPs I met in the border town had spent the previous week in Victoria Falls. The motivation for taking consecutive weekends away from the ‘demands of the constituency’ are mainly limited to commitment to development of the country or personal financial gains from the per diem. Precedence and the famous Makhosini Hlongwane proposal leaves me with the latter as the main reason. I was then left wondering what I could do with US$350 a day. It is a temptation too flatterer sweet to be resisted. And what would one do to keep the dollars and cents. This partly explains the aggression we have come to see during elections. It bot about power and the financial gains. I also stumbled into a young man who runs a community-based organisation.

He also had a story to tell about, not only the extravagancy but the manipulation he has seen in the politicians. “They are cannibals, feeding on human meat! Imagine, one day we had a field day and the local MP, whom we had informed and had shown no interest bulldozed the event and started chanting slogans. We felt used. The people raised the issue with us saying we were using them for the sake of the politicians who had done nothing in the area.” It was quite interesting to realise how much the politicians crave for attention. How much they crave for a gathering. I was left wondering how as the people of Zimbabwe we would be able to stand up and tell an MP to go to hell should they try to impose themselves on us. I learnt a lot from the trip to the border town and while I hesitated to introduce myself to the MPs, I was gratified that being near them would at least give us a sense of what others think of them. I will discuss these issues with my fellow villagers and see how we will react but for now I need to down my sorrow.

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