LEGISLATORS this week endured the embarrassment of being barred from checking in at Crowne Plaza Hotel and Holiday Inn in Harare over non-payment of their accommodation bills by parliament.
Report by Herbert Moyo
The MPs were left fuming after being told on arrival from their bases outside Harare that they could not be checked in despite their bookings as the hotels try to recover outstanding food and accommodation expenses from the legislature.
Although hotel officials refused to comment, sources told the Zimbabwe Independent Holiday Inn is owed more than US$90 000 while Crowne Plaza is owed US$8 000.
Accommodation rates for Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn in Harare range from US$160 to US$185 for a standard room per night. However, MPs sometimes get special rates.
Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo said 56 of the 58 legislators booked at Holiday Inn were turned away over outstanding bills and only she and Chivi North MP Tranos Huruba checked in after paying for their own accommodation.Khumalo accused parliament’s authorities and the executive of demeaning legislators in the eyes of hotel staff “who are after all part of the electorate”.
“These people who evict us are part of the electorate who vote us in and look up to us for leadership,” said Khumalo. “How are they supposed to respect us and trust us to carry out our mandate if they are going to be witnesses in such activities that embarrass and demean us,” she asked.
Magwegwe MP Felix Sibanda said he was forced to secure his own accommodation “somewhere at a US$50 (a day) lodge where there was no water” after being barred from checking in via a phone call while on his way to Harare.
Sibanda took a swipe at the executive accusing it of deliberately undermining MPs and their functions by perpetually underfunding the legislature.
“They are neglecting our welfare while the executive and judiciary are well-catered for with cars and allowances,” said Sibanda. Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya also confirmed the problem.However, Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma professed ignorance over the crisis when contacted for comment.
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” said Zvoma. “The service providers communicate directly with us not through the press.”