HARARE- Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe (pictured) on Friday blamed sanctions by Western countries for his government’s failure to pay its workers on time, which led to a crippling strike by civil servants this week.
“We have problems with sanctions, the United States is yet to remove them and the EU has removed some of them,” Mugabe said while addressing his ZANU-PF party supporters Friday evening at a stadium in the northeastern mining town of Bindura in a rally televised live on national television.
“They (workers) do not fully understand the problems that we face, it doesn’t mean that we are poor but the payment of salaries can be delayed because of the sanctions.”
The 92-year-old leader vowed to find ways of paying government workers on time saying the current problems are temporary.
“We are solving the problem. We are saying these are troubles for these days only. It will not continue like this because we do not want the doctors, nurses and teachers to go on strike,” he said.
Mugabe has blamed sanctions by the European Union and the United States for his government failure to deliver over the years, saying some government payments are being intercepted by Western countries.
Government workers in Zimbabwe went on strike Tuesday to protest against delayed salary payments amid growing tensions over the country’s struggling economy.
Mugabe said cash shortages at banks are being caused by businesses and individuals who are not banking their money, resulting in the liquidity crunch.
“Some companies and our people who would have sold goods and got their money are withholding the money. They are not depositing the money to the banks,” he said.
“Now when banks do not have money how can the workers be paid because the money in the banks is the one that government uses to pay its workers.”
He appealed to government workers to continue working even when their salaries are delayed.
“We are not saying we will not pay your salaries but we are saying the government has a lot of government departments. But some of you do not understand that,” he said.
“I am happy to hear that some have returned to work.”
On Friday a Zimbabwe magistrate court granted bail to 104 people who are facing charges of public violence after protests on Monday by public transport drivers who were striking against police corruption, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.
About 94 protesters were arrested on Wednesday after government workers went on strike.
Zimbabwe police reacted in both protests by beating up people and firing teargas to disperse protesters.
Zimbabwe is currently facing a liquidity crunch with banks facing cash shortages while the government has been failing to pay its workers on time.