PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has claimed he was bearing the brunt of the economic hardships in the country, but inadvertently revealed that his salary had increased by a whopping 300% from $4 000 last year to $12 000 per month this year, at a time a majority of civil servants are paid less than $300, well below the poverty datum line.
Mugabe, who last year claimed his salary was $4 000 a month, did not reveal how his salary has multiplied threefold in less than 12 months without it being gazetted by the government.
Speaking at Harare General Hospital during the commissioning of medical equipment bought through a $100 million Export-Import Bank of China loan facility, Mugabe described his $12 000 mega salary as meagre and not in line with salaries of other leaders in the region.
The 91-year-old leader said he earned a sacrificial salary of $10 000 and allowances amounting to $2 000.
“We should all just be grateful that we have food on our tables,” he said.
“If there’s isitshwala and meat — that’s it.
“I am suffering just like you.”
Mugabe’s new revelations are in sharp contrast with the figure that he mentioned last year when he said he only earned $4 000.
The First Family controls a multi-million dollar empire in Zimbabwe, including farms, a dairy business and exclusive schools.
Mugabe’s expenses are largely footed by the government, including his numerous foreign travels, food, medical bills, accommodation, security and transportation.
Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a decline for more than a decade, with firms operating below capacity because of lack of capital, high unemployment and dilapidated road and rail networks.
Thousands of civil servants in the country are wallowing in abject poverty and are not being paid on time, while corrupt activities by senior government officials have reached unprecedented levels.
The 91-year-old leader yesterday blamed Zimbabwe’s economic problems on Western sanctions, most of which have since been relaxed.
Mugabe said the United States was now thumping its nose at China and yet they benefited from loans advanced by the country.
“I want (US President Barack) Obama to hear this, China sustained them during their economic crisis and they were never made to pay back those loans, but now they are snubbing China,” he said.
Mugabe praised China for standing by Zimbabwe even during the liberation war struggle. Commenting on the collapsed health delivery system, dogged by drug shortages and a mass exodus of skilled personnel, Mugabe said morale had remained low, as staff worked with obsolete and inadequate equipment.
“This new equipment will produce high quality services and instead of us trying to reinvent the wheel we will copy technology that is already there,” he said.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said the equipment, some of which had already been sent to other hospitals in the country, would go a long way in boosting staff morale.
“Health professionals were increasingly becoming frustrated because they now lacked these tools of the trade,” he said.
Parirenyatwa said effective health delivery service was only possible if the required tools were made available. Part of the equipment included theatre tables, blood pressure monitoring machines and others.
Harare Hospital clinical director George Vera said that they had to devise ways and means to manage the constant drug supplies.
This follows recent reports that drugs including Betadine were in short supply at one of the oldest hospitals in the country.
“What should never be out of stock are emergency drugs like those used in the theatre,” he said.
“We aspire to keep our drug supply in acceptable levels.”