MDC-T secretary-general and Finance Minister Tendai Biti has assured the country’s restive civil servants that he stood ready to increase their salaries once he gets access to revenue from diamond sales.
Biti, who was addressing over 7 000 MDC-T supporters at a rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo over the weekend, said he had not received any fresh money from diamonds sales this year.
“They (Zanu PF critics) speak of civil servants’ salaries as if they are the trade unions of the workers of Zimbabwe. If they give me diamond money I will pay civil servants. Where is the money going to? As Finance minister, I haven’t received fresh diamond money since the beginning of 2011.
“What I know is that there are 75 000 ghost workers on the payroll, some of whom don’t even have birth records. Some (ghost workers) were born in June 1978 but their contracts are dated June 1954,” he said.
This comes after similar pleas by the International Monetary Fund to incorporate the administration of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation into government so that Treasury could handle all diamond revenue.
Biti has been at the centre of a storm in the past few months with Zanu PF and their allies blaming him for exacerbating civil servants’ misery. Early this year, President Robert Mugabe told journalists $250 million diamond money had been channelled to Treasury to cover the civil servants’ salary hike.
But, Biti immediately shot down the claims as cheap politicking and grand standing indicating the national purse was empty.