Cash-strapped Zimbabwe government delays military salaries

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has announced it will delay paying June salaries for the military and police by up to two weeks.

It said other workers on the state payroll will only receive their salaries next month.

The military will be paid on June 27 and the police three days later, said the finance ministry in a notice dated June 16. Civil service workers in other departments will only get their June salaries in mid-July, it said.

The military, a key pillar of President Robert Mugabe’s rule, is usually the first to get paid around mid-month.

Zimbabwe has been delaying pay dates for its employees for nearly a year due to revenue problems, but this is the first time the salaries have been delayed so long.

“Against the background of severe revenue under-performance and related cash flow challenges government has been honoring its wage bill obligations, albeit, through the continuous shifting of pay dates,” read the notice.

Zimbabwe has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to cut its wage bill, which consumes more than 80 percent of government revenue. The government is the country’s largest employer with 554,000 on its payroll, according to figures presented to parliament by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. About 40,000 are in the military.

Mass factory closures have caused the government’s tax revenue to decline. Low foreign direct investment and a ballooning debt have worsened the situation.

Zimbabwe is not operating with its own currency, but instead uses the U.S. dollar and other currencies as its legal tender. A shortage of the U.S. currency has caused severe cash shortages. The result has been long bank lines as people struggle to get cash from their savings and salaries.

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