Peta Thornycroft, Telegraph (London), March 17, 2014
After blowing about £3 million on his daughter’s wedding earlier this month, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe says he wants a pay rise.
President Robert Mugabe, 90, who most Zimbabweans believe will die in office, told public service workers that he is holding out for a pay increase next month.
So far, Mr Mugabe’s Zanu PF government has not managed to deliver on his election pledge last July to double the wages of 200,000 civil servants, most of whom earn about £200 a month.
Zimbabwe is bankrupt and several economists privately say they expect the government will not be able to pay civil servants on time, if at all, later this year.
The financial crisis worsened when people withdrew most of their savings from banks after Mr Mugabe won disputed elections last year.
Zimbabweans estimated during the unity government of Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, that Mr Mugabe’s salary could have been about £5,000 per month, given that cabinet ministers earned about £2,000.
Mr Mugabe can, legally, take whatever he wants from the treasury for foreign visits and does not have to account for that money.
For the last 20 years he has travelled outside of Zimbabwe about once a month, sometimes more.
During the inclusive government, Tendai Biti, MDC finance minister, warned Mr Mugabe to control spending on foreign travel as he tried to rebuild the economy devastated by hyper-inflation during the previous Zanu PF administration.
Mr Mugabe has accumulated vast wealth in the last 20 years, particularly since he married his second wife, Grace.
They are Zimbabwe’s largest landowners and most of their agricultural properties were taken from productive white farmers during the post 2000 land grab.
Mr Mugabe was in Singapore for his 90th birthday on February 22, and so a group of civil servants held a delayed luncheon for him last week.
He warned the treasury against pulling an April Fool’s joke on him after finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said pay increases would come next month.
“We’re promised that we would get the money in April,” Mr Mugabe said.
“I was talking to (Public Service Commission chairman) Mariyawanda Nzuwah who is close to Chinamasa and he assured me that we would be paid.
“Even the President is also a worker–1st of April don’t fool us.”
Mr Mugabe’s oldest child, Bona, 24, married a local man, Simba Chikore, 37, at the family’s vast palatial Harare home earlier this month with a guest list which included several African heads of state and about 4,000 guests. The newly weds are on honeymoon in the Seychelles.