By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has described the recent decision by government to set-up subsidised shops for members of the uniformed forces as a violation of the country’s Constitution and a threat to national security.
In a briefing after last week’s Cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube announced that, starting next month, members of the defence forces would receive subsidised basic groceries within their cantonment areas to cushion them against rising prices.
Minister Mutsvangwa also revealed that the government had introduced a 2.5% tax for civil servants which will go towards the setting up of a civil servants loan fund.
“This cabinet‘s decision to establish special shops for the uniformed soldiers is madness of the highest order. This is a clear violation of the Constitution because soldiers are now going to be treated as first class citizens,” said PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
Zhou said the move by the government to avail subsidised shops to unformed forces invited civil unrest and disorder.
“The government is simply telling other Zimbabweans that they need to possess arms in order for them to be respected as well. Everybody is wallowing in poverty. What the government is doing is tantamount to fire-fighting,” said Zhou.
The PTUZ chief said the government’s move would also ruin civilian and military relationships and vowed to resist the 2.5 % taxation on civil servants.
“We will resist that obnoxious, callous and unjust measure by the government. PTUZ has taken a position to mobilise teachers across the union and the generality of Zimbabweans to resist this tax. According to our calculations, the government will raise more than $10 million alone in taxes from the teachers only,” said Zhou.
He said the union suspects the government, through the 2.5% tax, intended to raise money for other purposes.
“We view this tax as another way of plundering taxpayer’s money. We are not assured that the money will go towards its intended purposes,” he said.
Zhou said instead of focusing on appeasing a certain section of citizens, the government should be concentrating on the recovery of the economy, good governance and service delivery.