THE government is set to spend almost $9 million on traditional chiefs’ cars after a parliamentary committee recommended that each of them receive $35 000 instead of $18 000 to buy vehicles.
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government recommended that traditional chiefs be allocated $35 000 each to procure vehicles of their choice, as their terms of office were much longer than those of legislators.
Committee chairperson, Irene Zindi, on Tuesday told Parliament that the committee heard that $18 000 was not enough, as it could only buy single cab trucks instead of the twin cabs chiefs desired.
According to a parliamentary record, while debating the 2015 national budget debate in the National Assembly, Zindi said the committee was of the conviction that since the tenure of chiefs is longer than that of parliamentarians, they should be given the $35 000 and pay over a longer period.
“Furthermore, the officials informed your committee that chiefs could only get vehicle loans up to $18 000 instead of $35 000 based on their current allowances,” Zindi said.
“With $18 000, they can only buy single cab trucks rather than the twin cabs they desire. Your committee was of the conviction that since the tenure of chiefs is longer than that of parliamentarians, they should be given the $35 000 and pay over a longer period. On the same note, chiefs also felt that it was high time that their allowances were reviewed.”
During the chiefs’ annual conference in Gweru recently, President Robert Mugabe told them they could get any car they wanted and the government would bankroll the purchases.
If the government approves this, it will further raise questions on where its priorities lie, as for example, the authorities only spent $205 000 on schools last year and $180 000 on HIV and Aids awareness programmes.
In 2012 the more than 250 traditional leaders made shock demands to be given diplomatic passports and guns for personal security.
The chiefs, who are paid $300 in monthly allowances and drive government-issued cars, stand accused by Mugabe’s opponents of dabbling in politics.