The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: War Vets Demonstrate Against Biti

War veterans yesterday demonstrated against Finance Minister Tendai Biti at his offices for failing to give them a living wage and not awarding civil servants a salary increment.

They handed a petition to Minister Biti before having a meeting with him.

The war veterans gave Minister Biti a five-day ultimatum to respond to their demands. Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association Harare province chairman, Cde Charles Mpofu, said their monthly pension payouts needed to be reviewed.

"We have met him (Biti) and he told us that money from the mining sector was not reaching Treasury and he could not do anything. But we told him that diamonds were not the only minerals in this country and you should not only focus on diamonds.

"He told us that he would forward our concerns to the President (Mugabe) and will come back to us within five days.

"If he fails to come back then it means he is declaring war against the war vets and we will show him the door," he said.

Other war veterans accused Minister Biti of trying to perpetuate civil servants misery as part of a wider plot of effecting illegal regime.

The former liberation war fighters were singing revolutionary songs and waving placards denouncing his actions. Some of the placards read: "Give civil servants their money, they deserve it. Civil servants keep the country going and need respect" and "Leave office now because you have failed to serve the country."

In their petition, the war veterans also accused Minister Biti of sabotaging the agrarian reforms.

"You have failed to support the agrarian reform by not giving farmers capital to buy inputs.

"You want to make the land reform a failure by not paying for grain delivered to GMB on time. You do not care about the welfare of civil servants who are earning below the poverty datum line," read part of the petition.

The former liberation war fighters said they needed improvements on their living wage.

"You have not made any provisions to raise the standard of living of war veterans either by an increase in their earnings or awarding development grants.

"You have failed as a Finance Minister to source funds or loans for the country's expansion programmes," the petition read.

Minister Biti was not available for comment yesterday, but has insisted Government has no money to increase salaries.

Presenting the Mid Term Fiscal Policy review recently, Minister Biti said Government would one day fail to pay its workers due to financial constraints.

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