2. May 2009

Zimbabwe unity government broke, says Morgan Tsvangirai

Zimbabwes unity government is "broke", Morgan Tsvangirai, the prime minister, said on Friday, as he tried to placate unions demanding huge pay rises. The Movement for Democratic Change leader said he, President Robert Mugabe, and all government employees, were on $100 a month. "This government is broke, and we are only able to pay the $100 allowance, but when things improve, we want this allowance to graduate into a proper salary," he said at a May Day rally. "For now, everyone, all of us, including President Mugabe, is getting $100." But Mr Mugabe has the benefit of an official residence and cars at his disposal, while his cronies have the benefit of the proceeds of corruption they have engaged in on a grand scale during their decades in power. By contrast, ordinary Zimbabweans struggle to get by now that all prices are in US dollars, and the power-sharing government set up in February is struggling to meet their expectations of rapid improvement in their lives. African countries have promised Zimbabwe around £250 million in credit, but reconstruction aid amounting to billions from the West is on hold until the new authorities can show they are implementing change, and a fresh wave of farm invasions by Mr Mugabe’s loyalists, which the MDC seems powerless to stop, is doing nothing for their case. "We have been in office for less than three months," said Mr Tsvangirai. "I plead with you to please give us time. Your demands must be realistic, taking into account that your government is broke and that industry has not been performing." Earlier thousands of workers cheered Lovemore Matombo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, when he threatened protests if demands for monthly salaries of £300 were not agreed. "If this is not met, the workers are going onto the streets," he said. (The Daily Telegraph)

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