Analysts have said President Emmerson Mnangagwa‘s “antics” to retain power are destabilising the economy.
Mnangagwa’s government recently announced that it plans to pay one-off rewards and monthly pensions to a new batch of 160 000 war veterans, war collaborators and ex-political prisoners who missed out during the first round of compensation in 1997.
The move is seen as a ZANU PF election strategy since war veterans, ex-political prisoners and war collaborators are part of the ruling party’s structures.
Some observers say Mnangagwa is repeating a move by the late Robert Mugabe’s regime which in 1997 paid out unbudgeted lump sums of nearly ZW$50 000 (US$4 300 at the time) to 50 000 war veterans following months of protests.
The move triggered the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar.
Former ZANU PF politburo member and liberation war stalwart Rugare Gumbo said the number of former fighters the government says it wants to compensate did not make sense. He told The Standard:
The figure published by the government is disputable.
I don’t know the reason why the authorities are inflating the figures.
Liberation Veterans Pressure Group chairman Amos Sigauke also said the figures were inflated. Sigauke told The Standard:
We should now be less than 34 000 because the ex-combatants are dying.
They want to rip off deserving war veterans and give the money to ZANU PF youths ahead of 2023.
In 1989, there were 30 000 war veterans across the country and the number has kept on increasing with analysts saying the government was creating ghost ex-combatants.
Pardon Taodzera, a political analyst, said the government had a history of putting ghost workers on its payroll as payment for campaigning for the ruling party.
Harare-based economist Prosper Chitambara said the economy will pay a huge price as billions were being splashed to win votes. Chitambara said:
This explains why there could be a huge increase in broad money supply within the economy and obviously that increase in money supply has also stocked up inflationary pressures.
So the financing of these projects has caused a bit of instability.
Mnangagwa’s government has been spending big on projects, especially targeted at urban voters who have in the past been voting for the opposition.
Methuseli Moyo, a political analyst and university lecturer, said the fact that most of the projects were being fast-tracked ahead of the elections betrayed the government’s intentions.
Some of the projects/initiatives consuming funds:
i). In March, ZANU PF revealed plans to drill boreholes in all cities and towns, in what critics said was a vote-buying gimmick.
ii). For road works, the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (ZINARA) has so far poured just over $9.5 billion under the Emergency Road Rehabilitation Programme with $17 billion set aside for 2022.
iii). In April, Mnangagwa pampered chiefs in Binga with fishing rigs, fulfilling a promise made ahead of the March 26 by-elections.
iv). Binga will also get a vocational training centre and a new border post, boreholes, a nursing school at Binga Hospital and the refurbishment and operationalisation of the hospital mortuary ahead of the 2023 elections.
vi). Traditional leaders across the country have been promised medical aid, fuel coupons, data bundles, and free car services including payment in foreign currency that civil servants are clamouring for as the local currency tanks.
International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative for Zimbabwe Carlos Cacere told the Zimbabwe Independent, that the pledge to pay the gratuities and pensions was a cause for concern since Zimbabwe is already struggling to service unsustainable debt.