Saturday, July 04, 2009

(HERALD) ZCTU blasts MPs’ decision over vehicles

ZCTU blasts MPs’ decision over vehicles
Herald Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has slammed Members of Parliament over their decision to shun locally-assembled vehicles — demanding a whooping US$30 000 each to purchase luxury cars outside the country.

The labour body’s secretary-general, Mr Wellington Chibebe, in a statement yesterday, accused MPs of being inconsiderate about the economic challenges the country and the people of Zimbabwe were facing.

"ZCTU is dismayed by reports that some MPs have spurned an offer by the Govern-ment to be issued with locally-assembled utility vehicles for use during their day-to-day operations, opting to be issued with more expensive imported vehicles.

"On behalf of Zimbabwe’s workforce, the ZCTU is dismayed that the legislators are not concerned about the economic quagmire the country is currently saddled in.

"We currently have an unemployment rate of more than 90 percent and our industry is operating at below 20 percent of its capacity," he said.

He said that the country had vehicle-assembling plants at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries in Harare and Quest Motor Corporation in Mutare, which were currently operating below their potential because there were few buyers for their products.

Workers at the two plants, he said, were facing a bleak future because their companies could not generate enough business to sustain them with some having been put on forced leave while others faced retrenchment.

He said that it was against the background of such a "sorry" economic state that ZCTU was concerned that legislators were demanding that they should be paid US$30 000 each to purchase the vehicles outside the country.

The labour body was disturbed to note that the MPS wanted to send back the foreign currency the inclusive Government was mobilising from various sources the world over to recapitalise local industries that were operating below capacity.

"Such a demand is absurd considering the fact the Government is failing to pay civil servants a salary, but an allowance of only US$100 per month.

"What these legislators should understand is that, by purchasing the vehicles from outside the country, they are killing our own industry.

"Our car assembly plants are lying idle and unless they are revived, it is the lives of those they purport to represent that is put at risk," he said.

Mr Chibebe urged legislators from all political parties to settle for much cheaper locally assembled vehicles that he said would create employment for locals and down stream industries.

MPs last month rejected Mazda BT50 trucks they were offered by Finance Minister Tendai Biti through a deal with Willowvale Madza Motor Industry, arguing that they were expensive to maintain, inferior and not durable for rural based lawmakers.

The lawmakers want to import more expensive top of the range vehicles. Some of them had taken some vehicles offered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as an interim measure.

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