Mugabe buys cars to keep middle ranks happy

HARARE - The Zimbabwean government has splashed US$4 million buying 320 luxury vehicles for middle-ranking police officers and plans to spend a further US$10 million on vehicles for same level military and secret service officers, authoritative sources told ZimOnline.
US$4 million is enough to

buy 16 000 tonnes of Zimbabwe’s main staple food, maize, at about US$250 per tonne. The maize enough is enough to feed about 266 000 hungry families for a month. Food aid agencies estimate that an average family of six requires about 60 kg of maize per month.
Sources said President Robert Mugabe authorised the latest vehicle purchase – barely two months after the government spent another US$144 000 on cars for the army and police – on advice from his Joint Operations Command (JOC), comprising security chiefs from the army, air force, Central Intelligence Organisation, police and prison service.
The key security committee recommended urgent action to quell disgruntlement among middle officers by improving their pay packets and service conditions, to ensure their loyalty as a worsening economic crisis buoys public discontent against Mugabe and his government.
“The salary hikes announced last May but which benefited nearly all civil servants and now the cars that are being bought are all part of the recommendations made by the commanders (JOC),” said a senior military officer, privy to JOC discussions with Mugabe.
The officer, who cannot be named because he was disclosing classified information, added: “The commanders told the President that in the event of opposition-led mass protests, middle-ranking officers will be the people commanding operations on the ground and they needed to be taken care of.”
Both spokesmen for the police and army were not immediately available to comment on the matter while State Security (Intelligence) Minister Didymus Mutasa said the government was working to improve the welfare of security forces although he refused to discuss the vehicle purchases.
Mutasa accused – without giving evidence – the political opposition and what he termed “like minded people” of opposing any attempts by the government to improve conditions for the security forces in the hope that if the forces were kept poor that would make them support the opposition.
According to sources, the Peugeot 306 cars were assembled by Quest Motor Corporation in Mutare and delivered two weeks ago to Morris Depot in Harare.
They will be distributed to officers of the rank of superintendent and chief superintendent, who previously used pool cars, which they could not retain on retirement.
Previously, only top-ranking police officers such as assistant commissioners, senior assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners were allowed to keep their official issue vehicles as part of their retirement packages. – ZimOnline

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