Tsvangirai to pay civil servants in foreign currency

Friday, February 13, 2009

Harare - As the final preparations are being made ahead of today's ceremony to swear in Zimbabwe's new cabinet newly-inaugurated Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has pledged to pay civil servants in foreign currency.

From the end of this month, health workers, teachers, soldiers, police officers and civil service professionals will no longer be paid in the Zimbabwean Dollar.

In return, he has asked that schools be re-opened and civil servants return to their desks by next Monday.

In his inaugural address, released by his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after he was sworn in on Wednesday, Mr Tsvangirai said his top priorities were establishing democracy in Zimbabwe, curbing the cholera outbreak and delivering food aid on a non-partisan basis and rebuilding the economy.

However, he said that to deal with the country's humanitarian crisis, the new unity government had first to address the plight of civil servants.

"Our public service has ground to a halt as many of our patriotic government employees can no longer afford to eat, let alone pay for transport to their place of work," he said.

"Hard currency salaries will enable people to go to work, to feed their families and to survive until such time that we can begin to sustain ourselves as a country."

South African President and Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to attend the swearing of the new cabinet, under the new government of unity.

Former President and SADC facilitator Thabo Mbeki is also expected to attend.

Movement for Democratic Change's Secretary General, Tendai Biti, wil said to assume the finance portfolio, while Deputy Treasurer-General Elton Mangoma was named to the Economic Planning and Investment ministry.

Retired army Major Giles Mutsekwa will head the key Home Affairs (Interior) ministry, and prominent Harare lawyer Eric Matinenga the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

Party spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, will lead the Information and Communication Technology portfolio.

Mr Tsvangirai also said the unity government would scrap duties on food imports, introduce incentives to rebuild the local food industry and move towards restoring self-sufficiency in food production.

He addressed concerns among his supporters at the continued detention of opposition activists by saying that "while I will not interfere in the judicial process, I will make it a priority to ensure that the law is upheld and that the justice system deals with their cases in a fair, equitable and transparent manner in the shortest possible time frame."