THE government is set to splurge 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 has recommended that the more than 250 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.
The chiefs are refusing single cabs which cost $18 000 – which is a lot of money – instead they are coveting twin cabs. The chiefs’ appetite for sleek 4×4 all-weather terrain vehicles comes in the backcloth of revelations by independent survey that poverty has increased in both rural and urban areas with most families surviving on less than a dollar a day.
By any account, this is an obscene gesture at a time the government is struggling to pay civil servants their salaries on time and servicing its debt with suppliers.
Most indigenous firms are listed in critical condition due to the government’s inability to pay for goods and services made available to the State yet it has no qualms in forking out a whopping $9 million for the traditional leaders.
It is probably not far-fetched to say the gesture could be a 2018 election sweetener by the faction-riddled Zanu PF as it already focuses on the next polls. It speaks volumes on the administration’s misplaced priorities.
The chiefs should shoulder the blame. Instead of being custodians of traditional laws, they have turned themselves into mercenaries only concerned about their own personal comfort at the expense of national development which in essence, should be topmost on their priority lists rather than perks.
Let us remind our traditional leaders that the debate currently should be about saving our economy, improving service delivery and addressing the myriad of problems that bedevil the country, including unemployment.
These are the same traditional leaders that this year demanded that the government should treat them the same way as judges and magistrates.
The ridiculous demands coincide with the undeniable fact that already we have a blotted Parliament which is a burden to the national fiscus at a time when our economy is struggling and many Zimbabweans are surviving way below the poverty datum line.
It would be difficult for citizens not to believe that our traditional leaders are an appendage of Zanu PF if they accept the cars in the middle of this economic crisis.