Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on Wednesday dodged answering questions about first lady Grace Mugabe’s expenses during trips around the country to de-campaign main presidential succession rival Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Grace Mugabe went on a whirlwind tour of Zimbabwe close to the time of the Zanu PF conference in December 2015 and resumed the rallies in February 2016 after she returned from holiday in Singapore. She rolled out her ‘meet-the-people’ rallies to galvanize the masses against the vice president who was her ally to dethrone Joice Mujuru as president Robert Mugabe’s deputy but who has become her mortal foe.
In parliament, MPs reacted with disquiet over Chinamasa’s refusal over the last two months to disclose Grace Mugabe’s budget and state who funded the trips. Mrs Mugabe used army and police helicopters as well as state vehicles, dining in expensive restaurants and sleeping in five star hotels with her huge entourage.
Mabvuku MP James Maridadi slammed Chinamasa for inaction over the questions.
“When we ask these questions, it is not a matter of routine. We ask these questions because we want answers from the Executive. Hon. Cross’s question has appeared on this Order Paper for a very long time. This is a time specific question which should have been answered and follow-ups should have been made. He was asking about the First Lady’s expenditure in the provinces and that is time specific because when he asked this question, the First Lady was going around distributing tractors and so forth. So now two months later, people must have forgotten and we cannot have the Minister of Finance and Economic Development not coming here to answer this question and we keep it on the Order Paper. We do not ask questions as a matter of routine. Questions must be answered, we have a lot of Ministers here and I think one of the Ministers should have been asked to come and provide that answer to this House,” Maridadi said.
The temporary speaker of parliament Reuben Marumahoko said: “Point taken, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development will be available next week to answer that question.”
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