8 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Ministers Demand Houses, Vehicles As GNU Expires

MINISTERS from the three main parties in the coalition government are demanding exit packages consisting of houses in leafy suburbs, residential stands and top-of-the-range vehicles which they want delivered before the government of national unity (GNU)'s tenure ends in June.

Zimbabwe has a bloated cabinet comprising President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, one vice-president after the recent death of John Nkomo, two deputy prime ministers and 35 cabinet ministers. There are also six ministers of state and 18 deputy ministers who are all expecting a "golden handshake" before they leave office.

The exit packages would cost the bankrupt Treasury millions of dollars in hard currency.

In addition, MPs are also pressing for vehicles, claiming the ones they were given at the beginning of their current tenure are now in bad shape, especially after taking a battering during the constitution-making exercise.

Most legislators hired out their vehicles to Copac and were paid for the services. MPs are also demanding residential stands.

The House of Assembly started off with 210 legislators, but that number is now down to 190 because of deaths and suspensions. The senate had 93 members, a third of them unelected, among them 10 chiefs, 10 governors and those appointed by the principals. There are now 80 left.

Mugabe, in consultation with premier Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to proclaim election dates soon, which would mark the end of the inclusive government.

Cabinet ministers - who made a fuss about cars when they came into office four years ago - are, however, demanding golden handshakes before leaving office and have in recent high profile government meetings, including cabinet, pressed Mugabe to ensure their demands are met.

"It seems the ministers are drawing strength from the fact that they know the GNU built houses for Tsvangirai, the vice-presidents and the deputy prime ministers.

"The ministers' demands are likely to leave the fiscus drained if they are met and raise questions on the government's priorities," a source said.

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