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Zimbabwe Spy Agency Manipulating Civil Servants' Protest: Biti

Finance Minister Tendai Biti says the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) and President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party are backing Tuesday’s one-hour demonstration by civil servants demanding increased salaries.

Biti told Studio 7 Monday that he saw a hidden hand in the demonstration after police took swift action in clearing the agitated civil servants to stage the Harare protests.

He said though some of the workers will be genuinely demanding salary increases, there are others who were being manipulated by the CIO to engage in the protest.

Biti said the civil servants should, in fact, stage protests in Marange where diamonds worth millions of dollars are disappearing.

"If there are genuine workers interested in knowing why the economy is not moving, I would think that they should have demonstrated against companies in Marange that are stealing our diamonds, especially that company called Anjin (Investments of China)," he said.

The civil servants decided last Thursday to stage the demonstration after Biti downgraded the national budget from $4 billion to $3.4 billion due to drying diamond revenues from Marange field.

The diamond revenues were this year expected to boost state coffers by at least $600 million. Zimbabwe generated $41.6 million from diamond sales between January and June this year instead of the expected $123 million.

Secretary general Richard Gundani of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association said the protest was not targeting the finance minister.

"These claims are not true because we are not being driven by any politics and our actions are not motivated by political parties," said Gundani.

Apex Council chairwoman Tendai Chikowore said preparations for the demonstration have been finalized.