Zimbabwean assemblies are currently facing unpaid hotel bills of USD 750 000 as well as various unpaid travel and expenses allowances for MPs.
The perennially cash-strapped Zimbabwean government has fallen short of money at a critical point of the year – the immediate eve of the passing of Zimbabwe’s annual budget. This means that both houses of Parliament are to be shut down early, to reopen in late January, while the country’s official budget will be approved on Thursday. Essentially this means that Zimbabwe will pass a budget for financial 2014 that will not have received any meaningful scrutiny by parliamentarians.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who presides over the permanent economic intensive care under which Zimbabwe has limped through most of the last decade and a half, will present a budget to parliament without the usual consultative meetings or ensuing debate in the chamber.
The Mail & Guardian reports that the Zimbabwean assemblies are currently facing unpaid hotel bills of USD 750 000 as well as various unpaid travel and expenses allowances for MPs. Fuel coupons are all that most representatives are receiving by way of compensation, and those are far from regular. The report also quoted an anonymous source who said that a full double session of Zimbabwe’s House of Assembly and Senate cost around USD 200 000 per week in accommodation and allowances. The country’s legislative branch had already adjourned its 2013 session between September and early November, later extending this break to mid-November, as an austerity measure.
The non-payment of hotel bills and allowances has immediate consequences for the quality of the legislature’s work in a country where fuel is relatively expensive and distances are significant. Earlier this year, legislators were barred from several top hotels in Harare due to outstanding bills.