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MDC-T admits World Bank secretly paying PM staff

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image Gorden Moyo

The World Bank has been secretly paying salaries to staff in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Office, a top aide has admitted, fuelling speculation that MDC-T is trying to run a parallel Government in Zimbabwe.

Minister of State in PM Tsvangirai’s Office Gorden Moyo this week made the admission, but would not say how much the staff were being paid or why they were getting the extra money.

It is believed that some of the beneficiaries of the World Bank "slush funds" were getting between US$700 and US$7 000 monthly depending on grade.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has told civil servants that the Government cannot afford to pay them more than the present average of about US$140 at a time when teachers’ unions have been threatening job action over poor remuneration.

Oddly, MDC-T’s Senator Obert Gutu has denied that any civil servant was getting more than other Government workers. Minister Moyo said the PM’s staff were getting the money as part of a Government scheme with the World Bank, but State officials yesterday said this was not true.

"It is a scheme of Government . . . we are getting resources through a scheme of technical assistants (sic) through the World Bank. These people are being paid through the World Bank," Minister Moyo told an online news site.

Prior to this, Senator Gutu wrote an article in which he said: "For the benefit of the readership, let me categorically state that the Prime Minister’s Office has got a small professional bureaucracy that earns the same salary as every civil servant."

Senator Gutu’s statement strikes a discordant note with Minister Moyo, whom many would say is better informed about affairs in the PM’s Office than the legislator.

A Government official last night said: "We have known about this (the World Bank salaries) for sometime now and we are taking it very seriously. That is all I can say for now."

Minister Moyo’s disclosure is bound to cause consternation within the civil service and observers last night said it was "shocking" that civil servants "working in MDC-T offices were getting preferential treatment".

"This can no doubt threaten the very integrity of the inclusive Government. What are they doing that is so special that they should be paid more than other even more hardworking and dedicated civil servants?

"This raises serious national security questions as well because what we have here are people who are serving two masters and that does not augur well for the inclusive Government," an observer said.

The observer said it was "no coincidence that when PM Tsvangirai toured several Western countries earlier this year ostensibly to look for financial assistance for the country, all the money he got unconditionally went to NGOs".

"These are the same NGOs that could be helping to create the parallel Government," he said.

Earlier this week, independent parliamentarian Professor Jonathan Moyo charged that MDC-T was attempting to set up a parallel Government with the aid of donor funds.

He said: "Some of these (staff) are working on the Prime Minister’s partisan newsletter and are reportedly being paid some US$700 a week while their co-ordinator, Andrew Chadwick, and other directors — such as a well-known lady lawyer who left a high-paying job at Artherstone and Cook to join the Prime Minister’s legal team — are earning at least US$7 000."

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