The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said it was “perturbed” that the Ministry of Finance would facilitate the importation of vehicles for the over 300 lawmakers.
“This is at a time when the country is going through a rough period and government cannot afford to pay civil service decent salaries,” ZCTU acting secretary-general Japhet Moyo said in a statement.
“Members of Parliament should have led by example to promote local auto industry. If all this money was poured into the local auto industry, thousands of workers would have been ensured of an income and a certain degree of job security,” said Moyo.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti reportedly told a parliamentary caucus meeting last week that government has approved a scheme for lawmakers to import vehicles from suppliers of their choice.
Biti reportedly said the legislators were free to approach any dealer other than the local Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries.
Minister Biti and the legislators have been at loggerheads on the sourcing of vehicles with the former insisting that they should get the Mazda BT50 model from local assembler WMMI, which the lawmakers opposed arguing that the vehicle was ill-suited for rough terrain.
After a standoff that lasted more than a month, Minister Biti convened a joint caucus meeting last week where he told the MPs they were free to obtain vehicles from sources of their choice.
But he told them the WMMI deal had the advantage that they would also be in a position to import another vehicle duty-free.
This irked the ZCTU.
The union said: “On behalf of the Zimbabwean workers, the ZCTU is dismayed that legislators are not concerned about promoting the local industry more-so at a time when the country is going through an economic crunch.
“Workers at car making and assembling plants are facing a bleak future and our lawmakers choose to promote and secure jobs for workers in foreign lands. Local workers have been put on forced leave while others face retrenchments because companies are failing to generate enough business,” Moyo said.