THE cash-strapped Zimbabwean government, which has been struggling to pay civil servants’ salaries and bonuses on time and provide adequate social services, has bought new vehicles for senior members of the spy Central Intelligence Organisation at a cost of more than US$2 million, top government sources have revealed.
The expenditure comes at a time government is also shelling out cash to buy top-of-the-range vehicles for new ministers, appointed by President Robert Mugabe in December after he fired vice-president Joice Mujuru and 15 ministers deemed to be her allies as factionalism in Zanu PF raged.
The sources revealed that in addition to catering for the new ministers government also rewarded District Intelligence Officers (DIOs) last month with the 2013 version of the top-selling Toyota Corolla.
The vehicles are said to have been bought in South Africa at an average cost of US$25 000 each. There are about 60 DIOs, meaning government spent at least US$1,5 million on the vehicles.
In addition, Provincial Intelligence Officers (PIOs) and other agents at their level were allocated Toyota Fortuners — described as mid-sized sport utility vehicles (SUVs) — which cost an average of
Zimbabwe has 10 provinces, suggesting the PIOs gobbled about US$500 000, but other officers at that level who are not stationed in the provinces also received vehicles, bringing the total vehicles cost to more than US$2 million.
The revelations come as Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa allocated US$89 241 000 to the CIO, which falls under the President’s Office, in his 2015 budget.
The allocation for the CIO was listed under special services, which accounted for a significant amount of the US$190,052,500 allocated to the President’s Office.
Of the total 2015 budget of US$4,1billion Chinamasa said US$3,7billion would go towards recurrent expenditure, mostly labour costs, leaving precious little for crucial development projects and social services.
Mugabe, currently in Singapore for his annual vacation, is expected to reshuffle his cabinet again soon, where he is likely to drop more ministers suspected to be in the retreating Mujuru camp, and also name new ministers to fill vacancies created by the purge.
So far Mugabe has dumped Mujuru and several ministers including some who had seemingly become permanent fixtures in government. These include Didymus Mutasa, Webster Shamu, Francis Nhema, Olivia Muchena and Nicholas Goche.
Although government has over the years been complaining about declining revenue inflows as the economy remains stuck in the doldrums it has not hesitated to buy state-of-the-art vehicles, among them expensive versions of the Mercedes Benz and all-terrain vehicles for ministers, deputy ministers, senior civil servants and top security personnel considered the real power behind Mugabe’s throne.
New officials in government whom government has catered for include Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko, Samuel Undenge (Energy and Power Development), Supa Mandiwanzira (Information Communication Technology), Christopher Mushowe (Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment), Christopher Mutsvangwa (Welfare Services for War Veterans), as well as Prisca Mupfumira (Public Service.
Others include Tsitsi Muzenda, who was sworn in as Energy and Power Development deputy minister in December, as well as Mandi Chimene (Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister) and Biggie Joel Matiza (Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs minister).
The 2015 budget figures showed government’s skewed spending priorities. For instance, security ministries will gobble US$1bn of the budget, about a quarter of the total budget, while little was given to ministries like Industry and Mines which are at the heart of the economy. Industry and Commerce received US$23,2million and Mines US$18million, which is far smaller than the CIO budget alone.
By comparison, Defence was allocated US$380 million, Home Affairs US$485 million and the Office of the President and Cabinet — which houses the CIO — US$190 million.
Although economic ministries — except Agriculture which received US$225 million — were allocated paltry sums, social ministries were well-supported.
Health was allocated US$377million and Education US$919 million. — Staff Writer.