Unity govt splashes out on ministers

PRINCIPALS of the government of national unity (GNU) and cabinet ministers will get a windfall — in the form of cash, houses, residential stands, and luxury cars — as they have now finalised plans for golden handshakes in the form of plump exit packages when the tenure of the current coalition arrangement ends in June.

Report by Brian Chitemba

President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, and deputy prime ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe are expected to get hefty packages running into hundreds of thousands of dollars, while ministers would each get US$30 000, residential stands in affluent suburbs, three luxury cars including Mercedes Benz and top-of-the-range SUVs.

However, one minister has reportedly declined the costly packages which will further bleed the bankrupt government and economy, arguing it was a waste of taxpayers’ money. He also warned people would be outraged by this move.

As first reported in the Zimbabwe Independent last month, there have been ongoing discussions over the exit packages that would cost Treasury millions of dollars at a time the country is struggling to provide basic services like clean water, electricity and pay civil servants, as well as fund electoral processes.

Cabinet ministers — who caused a furore over cars when they came into office four years ago — drew strength to demand the hefty benefits after the GNU built houses or was planning to do so for Tsvangirai, the vice-presidents and the deputy prime ministers.

Sources said it was finally agreed Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mujuru, Mutambara and Khupe as well as the 35 cabinet ministers and 18 deputy ministers would receive “golden handshakes” before leaving office.
Apart from the ministers’ exit packages, MPs are also pressing for vehicles and more allowances.

MPs were previously given US$15 000 each.

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.