Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimbabwe puts off paying army as dollar shortages bite

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

Zimbabwe has postponed paying June’s salaries for its army and security services by two weeks and some civil servants will not be paid until next month, as the government struggles to raise money for wages, a ministry of finance official said on Friday.

File picture of Zimbabwean soldiers patrolling the streets of Glen View in Harare
File picture of Zimbabwean soldiers patrolling the streets of Glen View in Harare

Zimbabwe spends more than 80 percent of its budget on salaries, which the finance minister has previously said needed to be halved under proposed reforms aimed at winning financing from the International Monetary Fund.

Willard Manungo, a senior official in the finance ministry, said in a letter to the army, air force, police and civil service that soldiers, who are paid on the 12th of each month, would now receive salaries on June 27. The average salary is $475 a month.

In 2008, at the height of an economic crisis that saw hyperinflation reach 500 billion percent, some soldiers went on a rampage in the capital, looting shops because they were unable to get their salaries.

Teachers, doctors and nurses, who are paid by the 20th of every month will be paid on July 7 and 14 respectively, Manungo said.

The government has previously put off paying salaries for civil servants by no more than seven days, and this is the first time it has shifted pay dates for soldiers and the air force.

Without balance of payment support or foreign credit, Zimbabwe runs a hand-to-mouth budget, leaving it with virtually no money for infrastructure.

Its tax agency said last month it had failed to meet revenue targets for the first quarter of the year because of a depressed economy, company closures and job losses. Reuters