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Zimbabwe FM Biti Pressured by ZANU-PF Over Civil Servant Salaries

Sources said President Mugabe, his two vice presidents, the ZANU-PF politburo and central committee and some top military officers want Biti to prepare a supplementary budget to increase civil servant salaries

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugab'e's ZANU-PF party is said to be putting pressure on Finance Minister Tendai Biti to prepare a supplementary budget to fund increased salaries for civil servants though Biti has said and most economists agree that the country simply does not have the means to boost admittedly low public wages.

Representatives of teachers and other categories of civil servants say revenues from the sale of diamonds mined in the rich Marange alluvial field of eastern Zimbabwe should be sufficient to increase state salaries. But Biti and others say revenues from that source have fallen far short of hopes amid suspicions diamond process have been diverted.

Sources in ZANU-PF said the campaign to pressure Biti to increase public salaries is backed by President Mugabe, his two vice presidents, the party politburo and central committee and some senior armed forces officials. They said Biti will be forced to prepare a supplementary budget though he has said recources remain scarce.

They said ZANU-PF believes Zimbabwe has sufficient resources to boost pay for state workers. Biti, who could not be reached for comment, has said Zimbabwe should not bank on diamond revenues as large portions of revenues cannot be accounted for.

Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire said diamond revenues could not cover such a supplementary budget. "Money generated from diamond sales needs to be properly accounted for before we start thinking of tapping funds from this industry,” he said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association Chief Executive Sifiso Ndlovu said the government must earmark funds from the sale of mineral resources to pay civil servants.

But economist Eric Bloch said Zimbabwe simply doesn't have the money.“The only option Biti has is to raise taxes but this will completely ruin the country’s economic growth and erode disposable incomes for suffering Zimbabweans,” Bloch said.