Biti flees office

HARARE - Finance minister Tendai Biti has fled his office while government business is grinding to a halt as police fail to act on war veterans who besieged the new government complex for two days running.

The war veterans, who are fiercely loyal to President Robert Mugabe and have in the past been accused of leading an orgy of political violence, were still camped at Biti’s office yesterday.

They are demanding more money from the Finance ministry, which pays them a monthly salary as well as school fees for their children.

Government also takes care of the war veterans’ health bill, despite most of them having occupied once thriving farms formerly owned by whites.

Biti, whose ministry is central to government operations, has sought refuge at his MDC party headquarters in Harare, from where he addressed a press conference yesterday.

He said the disturbances are disrupting government business as four ministries housed at the complex were affected by the invasion.

“This is a critical period in the ministry of Finance, the budget and the budget consultations. Today I was supposed to meet with bankers at 11 am but failed to do so,” said Biti.

He said his ministry had announced that consultations would start on October 1 in preparation for the budget to be presented on November 15.

This is the 12th time that war veterans have invaded Biti’s office, with the police turning a blind eye, said Biti.

“We are unable to guarantee the security of our workers. There is no greater proof of lack of rule of law and lack of security in a country,” Biti said.

He said it was curious that violent war veterans can invade government offices with impunity yet police are quick to ruthlessly crush human rights activists who march peacefully march in the streets.

At the government offices, the war veterans held civil servants hostage and blocked people from entering or exiting the building.

A defiant Biti said he was not afraid of the “vampire attacks” on his ministry, which he described as political.

“I disbursed $6, 2 million to cover funeral benefits and school fees for children of war veterans,” he said.

He said allowances paid to war veterans were guided by the law.

“The war veterans’ Act states the allowances should be at the same level as those of a warrant officer in the army,” he said. - Bridget Mananavire

    Comments (1)

    War vets please stop bothering Biti. Ask Mugabe for the money since you are always defending him.

    london - 8 October 2012

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