Church Leaders Criticise Zim Economic Policies

Harare – Church leaders in Zimbabwe have criticised the lavish lifestyle of Zimbabwean government officials, saying money spent on staying in hotels could pay monthly salaries for 300 headmasters and 1 000 teachers.

Zimbabwe public service workers started strike action on Tuesday, while protests have been called across all sectors, including the private sector, for Wednesday.

The church has taken a stance against the government in the past few months. Various church leaders have spoken out against government economic policies.

Failing to pay

On Tuesday, the church leaders under the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, southern region church leaders and Habakkuk Trust said “some of the country’s leaders are known to have stayed in luxurious hotels at … more than $300 000” in costs.

“This amount can pay 300 headmasters countrywide in a month and over 1 000 teachers in one month,” they added.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has been staying at a five star hotel in Harare while the government finalises his new house. At least two other ministers have also stayed in hotels for lengthy periods, yet the government is failing to pay civil servants on time.

On Tuesday, teachers, nurses and other government workers started strike action. The government is also battling to contain civil unrest throughout the country, which according to business leaders, has disrupted economic activity.

“We note the failure by the government to pay civil servants on time and instead advancing them just a small portion of their salaries.This comes at a time when the country has a bloated cabinet that blows a substantial amount of fiscal reserves,” the church leaders said.

They further criticised the government for heavy-handedness in dealing with protestors in Beitbridge over the weekend and in Harare on Monday.

Corruption scandals

They said “instead of dealing with citizen protests harshly the government should address the root cause of this discontent,  which includes poverty, corruption and misplaced economic priorities and policies.

“Government ministers and officials who are being fingered in corruption scandals should resign while investigations are being carried out by the police and the anti-corruption commission.”

They also suggested the government should reverse some legislation that imposed restrictions on imports of most goods and commodities.