The Mozambican parliament has purchased brand-new cars for its leadership at an estimated cost of $3.8 million.
The 18 luxury Mercedes Benz saloon cars are for the top ruling party and opposition MPs who make up the parliament’s governing board, known as the Standing Commission, according to the BBC.
The purchase has, however, sparked online outrage within the country as the vast majority of Mozambicans say they find it insensitive, considering that the country is in the middle of an economic decline that has prompted authorities to propose cuts to public spending.
Reacting to the public outcry, Rogerio Nkomo, the National Budget director in the Ministry of Finance, defended the purchase, telling an independent television station that members of the Standing Commission were entitled to such vehicles.
Antonio Muchanga, the leader of the main opposition party Renamo, criticized the government for its decision, saying a request was made for vehicles without specifying the make.
But Lutero Simango, a Member of Parliament elected on the platform of the opposition Mozambique Democratic Movement party, described his use of one of the cars as “legitimate” and rationalized the purchase by saying they were meant for official use.
Last August, protests greeted a plan by the government of Uganda to pay each one of its 427-member parliament the sum of Sh150m ($42,000) for the purchase of new personal vehicles.
In one of the protests, demonstrators introduced live pigs, which were painted in the colors of the ruling and opposition parties, in to the parliament building to symbolize the greed of the MPs.