Kudzai Kuwaza/Chipa Gonditii
GOVERNMENT’S priorities were brought into question after Finance minister Mthuli Ncube revealed this week that he will soon purchase vehicles for ministers and MPs at a time the country is facing a serious economic crisis.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a worsening economic meltodown characterised by hunger, power cuts, water shortages, health woes, and other countless problems.
Speaking at an Alpha Media Holdings event dubbed In Conversation with Trevor on Wednesday, Ncube said he would buy vehicles for ministers and legislators whom he said had been patient.
However, one of the participants at the event, business executive Ashton Ndlovu, took the minister to task over lack of priorities of buying vehicles at a time government owes South African power utility Eskom and HCB of Mozambique US$83 million.
“You spoke very eloquently about how patient ministers and MPs have been and how you are going to act this week on sorting out their cars. I do not know how much that is going to cost, but if you juxtapose it against the US$43 million that we owe Eskom, of which we paid US$10 million, how do you think that is perceived against the background when the nation perceives that US$23 million paid to Eskom would alleviate our electricity situation substantially,” Ndlovu said
In response, Ncube said: “We cannot have shiny cars parked around parliament when people are hungry and when inflation is raging the way it is doing; we need to manage perception, but unfortunately, there will always be competing needs because I also know, Mr Ndlovu, that there are MPs who are literally destitute, whose balances have been eroded by inflation,” Ncube said.
“They are getting into kombis to get to their constituencies and their communities have no respect for them. They do not believe that these MPs will bring relief to their communities when they cannot bring relief to themselves.”
There are more than 40 ministers, deputy ministers and ministers of state. Ministers are likely to get Land Cruisers or Prados.
Government will also fork out a further US$17,5 million for 350 MPs who have a US$40 000 ceiling to import cars.