Mugabe/Tsvangirai Spend US$2 Million On Groceries
Harare, Zimbabwe, 12 December 2009
I love Tendai Biti's transparency.
The Finance Minister and MDC-Tsvangirai Secretary-General is not a "Principal" so he can not control the wasteful decisions and glutton of his boss, Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert "The Solution" Mugabe. All he can do is expose these two incompetent gentlemen.
And that is what he has done.
Biti tells us that US$1.8 million was spent on "State residences" in the last year. This includes water, electricity and rate charges for the residences of both Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai lives in his own house in Strathaven, after he balked at moving into State House in Harare, which is just round the corner from Mugabe crack Presidential Guard Regiment and the King George VI Barracks (known as KG 6). His expenses are paid for by the State now that he is Prime Minister.
Mugabe lives now in his own sprwaling mansion in the plush Harare suburb of Helensvale and all his costs are also taken care of.
To add to this, there was a stampede by mostly ZANU PF Ministers to claim State "Grace and Favour" homes in Harare, where they also do not know who pays the water, power and other charges.
But the majority of the expenses are for groceries for Tsvangirai and Mugabe and one can imagine what sort of food they are eating to blow US$2 million in less than a year.
Worse, this figure is an underestimation because it is directly credited to "State Residences". There is also the cryptic figure of Miscellaneous in the budget which no one knows the purpose of. This could end up being as much as US$30 million, according to Treasury in Zimbabwe. That is a lot of "Miscellaneous" money!
It does not end there.
A third of all cars that belong to the government can not be accounted for, according to the Zimbabwe Finance Minister. This, he says, is despite the fact that these vehicles were procured "using public funds". He has promised a forensic audit to establish what on earth is going on, but I fear that he may be frustrated on this score, because ZANU PF types are unlikely to cooperate with him, just as they are refusing on the Land Audit and Civil Service Audit.
Can you imagine: on top of the disappeared vehicles, parliamentarians, ministers, their deputies and other government officials from all the parties to this Inclusive Thing called a Government are requesting new cars.
Biti says he will now keep a sharp eye on this and has said procurement of vehicles for government will now be centralised within the Ministry of Transport (which, unfortunately, is controlled by Mugabe's party). Clearly, this is not a solution. But the people in Government want it that way. Taxpayer money is not for the common good but for the comfort of a select few whom we can not get rid of because, on both sides of the political divide in Zimbabwe, if their positions are threatened, they do not hesitate to force the taxpayer to vote for them.
There is a good reason why Tendai Biti has got up the noses of both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Mugabe wants him fired or reassigned, while Tsvangirai is wary of him because he knows that the Minister has a power base in the MDC and is putting together his own group of loyalists to try and elbow Tsvangirai out.
I would not hesitate to support a government run by Tendai Biti at all if he continues with this sort of transparency and it turns out that this is the way in which his administration would run the country. He is a million times better than Morgan Tsvangirai. Perhaps it is the education and his history of a corporate culture. He has worked in a professional law firm that values accountability and transparency and playing by the book.
Tsvangirai never has.
Still, the point remains that there is too much wasteful expenditure by a government that is pleading poverty, a government that is bloated and is paying civil servants slave wages while the leaders themselves live the life of Riley.
This Unity Government (united in plunder and theft) can not end soon enough.