Zimbabwe defence minister in threat to Finance chief
By KITSEPILE NYATHI
Zimbabwean army generals have threatened unspecified action against Finance
Minister Tendai Biti for refusing to release funds for the recruitment of an
additional 5,000 soldiers.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on
Wednesday said Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa told Mr Biti he would let
the generals loose on him if Treasury does not release $2.5 million for the
recruitment exercise and other operational expenses.
But the MDC said the recruitment of additional soldiers was not necessary as
the government was struggling to pay those already in service.
Mr Mnangagwa is a member of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF while Mr Biti
is the MDC secretary general.
“The statement by the Defence minister is in bad taste as it comes barely
two weeks after the murder (by Zanu PF supporters) of Cephas Magura, MDC the
MDC Mudzi North chairman,” the party said in a statement.
“The country has already started recording an increase in cases of
politically-motivated violence and we must rely on the likes of (Mr)
Mnangagwa, as a senior government official to denounce unruly behaviour.
“The Defence minister must know that there are other means of solving
challenges other than by threats and intimidation.” Four years ago, the
inclusive government froze the recruitment of civil servants citing a severe
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The government has also failed to review salaries of its workers who earn an
average of $300 a month for over a year.
“For (Mr) Mnangagwa to demand $2.5 million for the employment of 5 000 more
soldiers at a time the majority of those who are already in service are
getting less than the poverty datum line is irresponsible,” the MDC said.
“(Mr) Mnangagwa should know better where money from Anjin is going as the
mining giant is staffed by former security personnel at all ranks.
“There are even fears that proceeds from Anjin’s activities in Chiadzwa are
being used to finance a parallel government in the country.”
Last month, Mr Biti said Anjin, a Chinese diamond company, had not remitted
revenue from its Chiadzwa mine this year, derailing the country’s $4 billion
Mr Mnangagwa reportedly said the situation at the barracks was desperate
with soldiers running out of food.
The Zimbabwean army recently announced that it was scrapping minimum
educational qualifications for aspiring soldiers, prompting accusations that
it was recruiting a militia to campaign from President Mugabe ahead of
elections he wants held this year.
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