President Robert Mugabe has claimed he was bearing the brunt of the economic hardships in Zimbabwe, but at the same time revealed earning a mega monthly salary of $12 000 per month at a time the majority of civil servants were getting less than $300, well below the poverty datum line.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Mugabe — who last year claimed he was earning $4 000 a month — did not reveal how his salary had multiplied three-fold in less than 12 months without being gazetted by the government.
Speaking at Harare Central Hospital where he commissioned medical equipment bought through a
$100 million Export-Import Bank of China loan facility, Mugabe described his $12 000 pay as meagre and not in line with salaries of his peers in the region. The 91-year-old leader said he earned a basic salary of $10 000 per month and allowances totalling $2 000.
“We should all just be grateful that we have food on our tables. Kana pane sadza nenyama ndizvozvowo (if there is only sadza and meat, that’s it). I am suffering just like you,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been in a tailspin for more than a decade with firms operating below capacity because of lack of capital, high unemployment, power cuts and dilapidated infrastructure.
The majority of civil servants are wallowing in abject poverty and are not being paid on time while corruption among senior government officials has reached unprecedented levels.
Mugabe’s latest revelations about his earnings are in sharp contrast with the figure that he mentioned last year when he said “he only earned $4 000”.
The First Family owns a multi-million-dollar business empire in Zimbabwe, including farms, dairy business and exclusive schools.
Mugabe’s expenses are largely footed by the State, including his numerous foreign travels, food, medical bills, accommodation, security and transportation.
The Zanu PF leader yesterday once again blamed Zimbabwe’s economic problems on travel and trade restrictions imposed on him by Western countries.
Mugabe said the United States was now thumbing its nose at China and yet they benefited from loans advanced by the Asian country.
“I want (US President Barack) Obama to hear this: China sustained them during their economic crisis and they were never made to pay back those loans, but now they are snubbing China,” he said. Mugabe praised his all-weather friends in the Far East for standing by Zimbabwe since the days of the liberation war.
Speaking at the same occasion, Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said the medical equipment, some of which had already been deployed to other hospitals in the country, would go a long way in boosting staff morale.
He said effective health delivery service was only possible if the required tools were made available.
Part of the equipment included theatre tables, blood pressure monitoring machines and others.
Harare Central Hospital clinical director George Vera said they had to devise ways and means to ensure constant drug supply.
This follows recent reports that drugs, including the anti-septic Betadine, were in short supply at one of the oldest hospitals in the country.
“What should never be out of stock are emergency drugs like those used in the theatre. We aspire to keep our drug supply at acceptable levels,” Vera said, adding the institution now had stocks of Betadine.
Meanwhile, Parirenyatwa said while everyone blamed the health system for the mismanagement of the cholera outbreak, emphasis should be placed on a steady supply of clean water and proper sanitation.
“If there is limited water supply and poor sanitation, those are the conditions in which cholera thrives,” he said.
His comments come in the wake of eight confirmed cases of cholera in Mudzi, Chiredzi and Chirundu.
Harare, like many cities, is beset by severe water shortages and many people have resorted to alternative but unsafe sources of water.
“Our concern is that the disease should not spread to Harare and we have already sent all our teams to the border towns,” Parirenyatwa said.
In Mudzi the team has set up camp to monitor and deal with any new