World Bank clarifies US$7000 salary issue

The State-run Herald has alleged that Tsvangirai was running a parallel government and says staff in his office were taking home up US$7000. But nothing can be further from the truth, so says the World Bank, alleged to be bankrolling the hefty salaries.

In a statement, the World Bank revealed that in February, 2009, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai requested the Zimbabwe Multi Donor Trust Fund, to consider “placement of qualified policy and programme specialists in key government agencies to assist with the collection and analysis of data which can provide sound policy options for ministers, permanent secretaries and stake holders to consider”.

The bank said it decided to respond favourably following a meeting in March to provide technical assistance to ministries.

These were going to be recruited either locally or internationally through a competitive process. Zanu (PF)-led ministries did not table any requests.

“Ministries may request Technical Assistance via the Ministry of Finance to the Multi Donor Trust Fund through the submission of Terms of Reference. These must specify deliverables, which the consultant has to produce, usually study reports, to assist the client with their work,” reads the World Bank statement.

The World Bank also indicated that the technical assistance would be provided by short term contract workers and not full time civil servants as claimed in the Zanu (PF) propaganda machinery.

“The World Bank procedures stipulate that contracts are of a short term nature for a maximum of 150 days per fiscal year and consultant. The World Bank does not offer open-ended contracts, nor does it pay salaries for government officials in line with international agreements.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesman James Maridadi denied that Tsvangirai could run a parallel government when in actual fact he was in charge of policy formulation in the government.

"The prime minister cannot possibly run a parallel government. He is in charge of policy formulation. You will recall that he drafted the 100-day action plan with ministers from across the political divide. After the 100 days were over, he went to Nyanga with the ministers to craft the way forward," he said in an interview in Harare on Thursday.

The spokesman also said the Global Political Agreement clearly states that ministers report to the prime minister, who in turn reports to Cabinet where the president is the chairperson while the prime minister is the deputy chairperson.

"If the government fails, it is the prime minister who will have failed. He is responsible for taking government proposals to Cabinet," he added.

Maridadi also dismissed the allegation that members of staff in the prime minister’s office are getting as much as 7,000 U.S. dollars a month through supports from the World Bank, while the rest of the civil service is earning an average 150 dollars.

"It is government policy and no donor or donor country will pay civil servants an allowance. As far as this one is concerned, it is a non-issue. I work in the Prime Minister’s office and I am not getting that kind of money. I don’t know of anyone who is getting that kind of money," Maridadi said.

Beneficiaries of the alleged scheme are perceived to be members of Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party. The allegations have caused a furore not only within the civil service, but also among other workers who say such a practice should be discouraged as it is not only discriminatory, but also encourages discontent across the country’s labor force.

Teachers’ unions have joined the fray and want the allegations investigated.

Independent Member of Parliament Jonathan Moyo has been quoted in the daily newspaper The Herald as accusing Tsvangirai of running a parallel government, which he said sought to undermine the Global Political Agreement.

Moyo is well known for cooking up propaganda, he lives on it. When the Prime Minister’s wife Susan Tsvangirai was killed in a car crash, Moyo went hysterical as if his mother was the victim. He accused the Americans and the British for the accident, even when the Prime Minister himself said it was an accident.