Zimbabwe generals threaten Finance ministerBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Thursday, June 14 2012 at 09:08
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 Tuesday 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 cash squeeze.
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 for 2012.
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.Two top army generals recently said soldiers would not allow anyone who does not share the Zanu-PF ideals to rule Zimbabwe even if they won elections.
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