MPs forced to sleep in cars, as Parliament fails to pay hotel bills

MPs forced to sleep in cars, as Parliament fails to pay hotel bills
Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba

MPs forced to sleep in cars, as Parliament fails to pay hotel bills

Parliamentarians were reportedly forced to sleep in their cars after hotels refused to accommodate them due to non-payment of bills by Parliament.

This is not the first time that legislators have had to struggle with accommodation issues, while on Parliament business.

Late last year legislators had to be booked in brothels and other sub-standard hotels after hotels could not take it anymore on owed funds.

The issue was raised by Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba on Tuesday in the National Assembly.

Honourable Chinotimba suggested that if Parliament cannot afford to pay for accommodation, Speaker of the National Assembly should organise virtual sittings.

‘’I also rise on a matter of national importance concerning Members of Parliament’s (MPs) accommodation. Yesterday MPs had to sleep in their vehicles because there was no accommodation at hotels. Some MPs who arrived on Sunday were given accommodation but those who arrived on Monday did not get accommodation.

‘’The hotel administration said an upfront payment should be made. We enquired from our Chief Whips who said Parliament has said they cannot pay – Treasury said they want to pay a certain amount which is not what Parliament needs for hotel accommodation.

‘’Up to this day, there are some MPs who do not have hotel accommodation and are still sleeping in their vehicles.  Maybe this is happening because we are coming to the end of our term – we do not understand,’’ he said.

The self-styled legislator pleaded with the Speaker to intervene, adding that one male legislator had to come to the rescue of a female legislator who had no accommodation.

He said Parliament has to pass a lot bills but the situation might make it difficult for them to operate.

‘’We know you Mr. Speaker as someone who stands up for us even during budget time.  May you intervene with regards to accommodation or maybe arrange for virtual meetings or we close for some time until this is resolved.

‘’We will only have a problem of connection since there is no electricity most of the time and electricity poles are falling. I saw a female MP who had nowhere to sleep and  one male MP had to give up his accommodation to her and he slept in his car.

‘’We have to pass a lot of Bills and I do not think virtual is ideal. May you please intervene with regards to this issue Mr. Speaker?

In his response the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda highlighted that he had since instructed the Clerk of Parliament to engage the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance George Guvamatanga over the issue.

‘’Thank you Hon. Chinotimba.  I was told by the Clerk of Parliament about the issue and he told me that he spoke to Mr. Guvamatanga, the Permanent Secretary.  I believe that Treasury is going to pay so that Hon. Members have accommodation. You have engaged me, so why not wait until the end of the day; this issue is going to be resolved this afternoon.

‘’If there is a challenge, we are going to escalate the issue like what we did regarding the Delimitation Report. We had a challenge like the one that we are facing and we engaged His Excellency the President. His Excellency then gave an instruction that there should be payment of that money. ‘’So we do not want to continue engaging His Excellency as if he is the Minister of Finance. The budget is there, Parliament passed that budget, so the money should come to Parliament,’’ he said.

MPs forced to sleep in cars, as Parliament fails to pay hotel bills