Outreach: MPs bid to make quick buck backfires

THE Constitution Parliamentary Committee (Copac) has refused to pay MPs who hired out Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-loaned cars for the outreach programme, forcing the withdrawal of the vehicles from the process.

MPs and senators had hoped to cash in on the outreach programme, but Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that only lawmakers who provided their personal cars had been paid.

The legislators hired out the vehicles for the ongoing outreach programme despite warnings that they would not receive a cent for the service since the cars legally belonged to the RBZ.

Mwonzora said other legislators who provided their own cars were paid last week.
“The money for the cars will not go to the MPs because the vehicles belong to the Reserve Bank,” Mwonzora said. “CMED (Central Mechanical Equipment Department) is handling the matter and I doubt whether the legislators who had hired the central bank vehicles were paid. However, those who had used their personal vehicles received payment.”

The Copac co-chairman described as criminal the move by the MPs to hire out vehicles that did not belong to them.

“We have explained the legal position to the MPs and no one should cry foul. The point remains that the vehicles are owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” said Mwonzora.

A CMED manager said over US$650 000 had been paid out to the legislators, while the 50 vehicles that belong to the RBZ would be removed from the Copac outreach programme. He said the RBZ would not be paid for the vehicles following a resolution that the cars would be removed from the outreach programme.

CMED would hire other vehicles to replace those that belonged to the central bank.
“The cars which are parked at CMED depots countrywide due to the outreach programme break will be removed from the exercise when the information gathering process resumes on Tuesday next week. We couldn’t pay for the RBZ cars because they don’t belong to the MPs,” said the CMED official.

He said “a few MPs” had started withdrawing their vehicles from the Copac outreach programme after the cars were used for three weeks for nothing.

“Some of the MPs had registered three vehicles per person to make money. The legislators saw the Copac outreach programme as a way of making quick money through crooked ways,” said the official.
An affected House of Assembly member who requested anonymity said he did not regret withdrawing his vehicle after attempting to raise money.

“I thought the car was mine since it’s a loan scheme,” said the legislator.
Copac is paying US$80 a day and 40 cents per kilometre per vehicle. The outreach lasts 85 days. Copac hired 265 vehicles for the outreach programme.

 

Brian Chitemba

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