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Chief whips decry stand-off with hotels



CHIEF whips from political parties represented in Parliament have decried a messy fall out between administration of the august House and major hotels in Harare which has seen lawmakers failing to get accommodation for the past two months.


 Members of Parliament from out of Harare have in the past been accommodated in major hotels in the capital like Crowne Plaza, Meikles, Cresta Oasis, Holiday Inn, Rainbow Towers, as well as New Ambassador between Sundays and Thursdays when they attend to parliamentary business.

The arrangement has been that the MPs are pre-booked and Parliament later pays the bills. However, Parliament has been failing to pay, with some hotels going for nine months without being paid for services rendered.

Lately, sources said the hotels have been insisting on cash upfront to circumvent Parliament’s failure to pay on time and its unworkable habit of settling the bills in moribund RTGS which would have been devalued by the time payments are processed.

The stand-off has resulted in MPs from out of Harare being unable to get accommodation in the capital’s major hotels when they come for debates, parliamentary committee meetings, lawmaking exercises and other tasks. In separate interviews, chief whips said rural MPs are the worst affected as some of them cannot join proceedings online owing to the lack of internet connectivity.

Zanu PF chief whip Pupurai Togarepi  (pictured) told The NewsHawks that the crisis was retrogressive as MPs, who are now required to join proceedings virtually, are facing challenges.

“There has been a challenge of accommodation for MPs caused by disagreements on the service providers’ pricing models. To be more precise, some hotels were charging black market rates. Effort is being made by Parliament administration to ensure they agree on fair rates with hotels,” he said.

The Gutu South legislator said the stand-off is affecting parliamentary business because the MPs forced to attend virtual proceedings were facing challenges.

 “Members debate on the virtual platform, which has connectivity challenges sometimes. Members’ presence in the House promotes lively debates and consultation where there are issues. It will be good for Parliament to work out a plan for members to be physically in the house,” Togarepi said.

“The most affected are members from rural constituencies who have to travel to urban centres for effective connectivity.”

Dangamvura-Chikanga MP and Citizens’ Coalition for Change chief whip Prosper Mutseyami said for the problem to be resolved, Parliament must simply settle its current outstanding bills and pay up for future services from hotels.

“Hotels are not accommodating MPs as has been the trend. Why? Because Parliament has arrears that stretch months back. The other problem is that when Parliament pays, they pay through RTGS whose value would have gone down against the US dollar. I have engaged the clerk of Parliament with regard to this and the leader of government business (Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi). They are trying to sort out things,” he said.

Mutseyami said the problem had resulted in Parliament’s pre-budget seminar, which was supposed to be held in Victoria Falls, being moved to the Rainbow Towers in Harare as the hotels in the resort town made similar requests for timeous payments.

“The solution is for Parliament to pay money,” said the CCC chief whip. On Tuesday, speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda admitted that the hotels were justified in taking a hard stance against MPs requiring accommodation due to non-payment of bills. It was after the matter had been raised by Norton MP Temba Mliswa.

 “Some hotels have been owed from six to nine months. Are you listening, honourable Mliswa? They have been owed for a long time and what they are owed now has been eaten up by inflation. These are the concerns also from the hotels. They also want value for money. So these are the issues and we will sort it out. Any challenges are there to be sorted out and get solutions accordingly and I am sure we should be able to find lasting solutions to that effect,” said Mudenda.

 In the past, MPs have been chucked out of hotels before the end their booked days due to the same problem, but the situation has worsened.

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