Back to Index
ZIMBABWE: Compensation payments to reward ex-detainees launched ahead
HARARE - The Zimbabwean
government's decision to award large compensatory payments this month
to former detainees from the liberation war could have long-term repercussions,
economists told IRIN.
The minister of public service, labour and social welfare, Paul Mangwana,
announced last week that former detainees held by the colonial government
for more than six months from 1959 will receive a one-off payment and
educational and health benefits.
The official Herald newspaper reported that at least 6,000 ex-political
prisoners, detainees and restrictees "are now set to be rewarded for their
contribution to the liberation struggle".
Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), warned the
government last year, when the Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees
Act was passed, that a large payout could throw plans to reduce inflation
The privately-owned Standard newspaper claimed that the once-off payments
would be worth Zim $10 million (about US $1,654) each, and could amount
to Zim $60 billion (US $9.9 million). There are reports that former detainees
are now scrambling to register, which could push the number of beneficiaries
to 25,000, potentially raising the bill to US $41 million.
Although every person who qualifies will be registered, only those in
need of assistance will benefit from the proposed schemes, the Herald
Last week the government also raised the allowances and salaries of chiefs
and village heads by 150 percent, with effect from January.
Most of the former liberation war activists have remained loyal to the
ruling ZANU-PF, while village chiefs have been important to the party's
strength in the countryside.
Economist and member of the RBZ's advisory board, Eric Bloch, said the
payouts made more political than economic sense, with parliamentary elections
due on 31 March.
"That is blatantly an act of vote buying ahead of elections in March,
and that will have a negative impact on the government's deficit, as it
will have to resort to more borrowing. The decision will counteract the
bank's efforts to fight inflation," Bloch told IRIN in an interview.
In 1997, the government made a much larger unbudgeted payout to war veterans
after they protested their living conditions - a move that had dire economic
Tendai Biti, secretary for economic affairs of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, claimed, "The doling out of millions of dollars
for purposes of political survival is an indication of how insensitive
the ruling party is. It does not matter to them if the economy is affected
by their ill-advised decisions. All they care about is remaining in power."
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.