THE battle between the Ministry of Finance and Reserve Bank over the allocation of cars to MPs has left ministers open to charges of hypocrisy by the legislators as they have more than two vehicles each while trying to block their colleagues in parliament from taking any from the central bank.
MPs who recently received 50 cars from the bank but have been ordered by Finance minister Tendai Biti and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono to return them so that they could be distributed by treasury or parliament have mostly refused to bring back the vehicles.
This has left Biti in a quandary over how to recover the cars. Gono has indicated to MPs that it was not his wish or order for the cars to be brought back, but Bitiâ€™s.
The minister has however said cars must not be surrendered to his office but to the Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo. However, Moyo has refused to be dragged into the row, pushing the issue back to Biti.
Biti and senior MDC-T leaders do not want the MPs to get the cars from the Reserve Bank alleging this would compromise them. They want the cars handed over to the Ministry of Finance or Parliament before they are distributed to legislators.
Tsvangirai told his party MPs on April 8 that they should not get the cars from the central bank directly.
This was after the MPs had dismissed a similar order the previous day by Tsvangiraiâ€™s deputy, Thokozani Khupe. MDC legislators angrily dismissed Khupe on April 7, forcing Tsvangirai to come to read the riot act the following day.
However, MDC MPs defied Tsvangirai and collected the cars from the Reserve Bank.
The MPs are arguing it is hypocritical to prevent them from getting vehicles from the central bank because all ministers, both Zanu PF and MDC, including Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, were using cars bought by Gono through quasi-fiscal activities.
MDC MPs who are now ministers directly got cars or money to buy cars from Gono before they came into government. After getting into government, they also got cars bought by Gono.
MPs say Tsvangirai himself has a top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz S500 bought by the Reserve Bank last year. Khupe has, among other cars, a Mercedes Benz and a Toyota Hilux bought through the Reserve Bank for R227 332.
MPs say Biti has a Mercedes Benz E-Class bought by the Reserve Bank. They also he has a Toyota Land Cruiser paid for by the central bank for seven million Japanese Yen. Biti and Gono also agreed in early April to have Prados given to the Ministry of Finance for distribution to ministers.
Gono delivered six new Toyota Prados to Biti recently in addition to 12 Prados that had been given to ministers Nelson Chamisa, Herbert Murerwa, Theresa Makone, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, Fidelis Mhashu, Ignatious Chombo, Welshman Ncube, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Joel Gabbuza, Senate President Edna Madzongwe and Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo.
On top of the Prado, Chamisa also has a Mercedes Benz ML 320 which he acquired through the Reserve Bank for R59 784.
Moyo, apart from his Prado, has a sleek Mercedes Benz S350 and a Toyota Fortuner paid for the by the central bank for US$28 158.
Almost all ministers have cars bought by the Reserve Bank and MPs are arguing that the ministers were being hypocrites by trying to prevent them from securing vehicles from the bank.
A committee of MPs from all three parties in parliament wrote a letter to Gono on April 10, indicating that the vehicles must be given to them directly and not through the Ministry of Finance.
The membersâ€™ welfare committee wrote to Gono, indicating it was not necessary to give the cars to Biti first and that they would get them directly from the bank.
The letter explains how the issue started when MPs asked Gono for cars on April 2. They told Gono they wanted cars to use in their constituencies. The MPs further met Gono on April 9 to finalise the issue before the cars were distributed but now there is a row between Biti, Gono and MPs over the vehicles. â€” Staff Writer.Â Â Â Â