Public outcry over uncapped rebate for MPs

The recent purchase of a top of the range Lamborghini Urus by Gokwe-Nembudziya parliamentarian Justice Mayor Wadyajena has torched a storm and sparked public outcry over the Statutory Instrument (SI) that gives an uncapped rebate  for  members of parliament allowing them to import cars with free import duty during their tenure in office.

The SI exonerates Wadyajena from any wrongdoing but it gives room for more public scrutiny over the  law and how it can be prone to abuse by greedy MPs.

Economist and Labour expert Professor Chitambara said while it is a fact that there is no crime in the importation of vehicles by MPs, the law must make it clear whether the vehicles are meant for use in the MPs’ respective constituencies.

“Although they are personal vehicles let’s not forget that they are supposed to be used in day to day activities for the MPs therefore the act must put some demarcations for the type of car imported like off road cars and 4X4 vehicles, but in this case Wadyajena cannot drive this car to Gokwe- Nembudziya,” he said.

He further submitted that the current government’s austerity measures should include taxing the rich to share the burden with the poor.

“If the government is serious with austerity measures they must heavily tax the rich so that the burden can be shared among citizens because currently there is no parity in this measure,” said Chitambara.

Speaking to this publication on Monday, the clerk of Parliament Kudakwashe Chokuda said parliamentarians are given a tax free rebate for one term on condition that  the vehicle should not be used for commercial purposes.

“All I can tell you according to the act (Section 120 of the Customs and Excise Act Chapter 23:02), an MP can import one vehicle during his or her term of office to use for his or her day to day activities,” he explained.

Analysts have however castigated the act arguing that it should be revisited as it was prone to abuse.

The public outcry comes at a time the RTGS$ is sharply losing value due to illegal foreign currency dealers who are dictating the economy.

The sharp increase of the black market exchange rate in the country is due to forex dealers who are allegedly hoarding United States dollars on behalf of government officials and connected businessmen.

Since his purchase of the Lambo, Wadyajena has been questioning if what he has done is wrong.

Recently in parliament fireworks erupted with some MPs saying what he did was morally wrong at a time Zimbabweans are suffering as a result of the austerity measures.