War vets besiege Biti’s office – again

August 1, 2012 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

By Lance Guma

A week after civil servants petitioned Finance Minister Tendai Biti
demanding wage increases, a rowdy group of war vets aligned to ZANU PF
besieged his offices in Harare on Monday, threatening to close down the
ministry.

The war vets and other civil servants are demanding a minimum salary of $564
and 15 percent of the basic salary as a rural allowance. The rowdy group who
went to Biti’s office accused him of failing to look after the welfare of
civil servants.

report by the Daily News paper says at one point the group “threatened to
beat up journalists” covering the drama. “He wants civil servants to quit
jobs and be helpless. He wants to run down the economy. He is increasing
fuel rates and food prices but he does not know that we liberated this
country,” one war vet said.

Charles Mpofu from the War Veterans of Zimbabwe Harare Province is quoted as
saying: “I have talked to Biti and agreed that he look at our complaints and
respond within five days but if he does not respond this time we are going
to close his ministry. We want him to look at the pensions and salaries of
every civil servant.”

Last week Biti told Senators in Parliament that next time civil servants
stage a demonstration against government for better pay, he would join them.
Biti said he wanted better pay for civil servants but “the problem is that
73 percent of the budget is going towards 235,000 people, leaving only 27
percent for 14 million.”

Biti said: “Next time they demonstrate, I am going to join them so that we
can go together to the Ministry of Mines to bring money for diamonds and
also to the Ministry of Defence to ask why they are over-employing.” This
was in reference to Anjin, an army/Chinese controlled diamond firm, that has
failed to remit any money to Treasury. The Ministry of Defence has also been
going ahead recruiting for the army, despite there being no government
agreement on this.

Meanwhile it’s not the first time war vets and ZANU PF militia have besieged
Biti’s office. Following a bust up between Biti and Mugabe in a meeting last
year, a petrol bomb was thrown at the durawall of his house and ZANU PF has
sponsored many other demonstrations at his office.

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