HARARE, Zimbabwe – The Zimbabwe prime minister's party said Wednesday it can't pay the military until revenues from the nation's eastern diamond fields, largely sealed off by troops, reach state coffers.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party said the finance ministry it controls in the coalition government isn't receiving money promised from diamond sales.
The national treasury "is yet to receive a cent" from the biggest mining company that is staffed by former military and security officials, the Movement for Democratic Change said.
The defense ministry has said it needs cash for soldiers who are going hungry and to fund a recruitment drive for an additional 5,000 men. Defense officials loyal to President Robert Mugabe have threatened violence, the MDC said. Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to send army generals to the finance ministry to force Minister Tendai Biti to meet the military's demands, it said.
Top military commanders have repeatedly refused to salute Tsvangirai. In the latest statement of defiance, a third general last month repeated that the military would not allow politicians who did not fight in the bush war that led to independence in 1980 to take over the reins of power even if they win elections proposed early next year.
Human rights groups accuse the military and police of being at the forefront of political violence and intimidation surrounding disputed elections in 2008 that led to the formation of the troubled power-sharing coalition.
Biti has said he had been promised $600 million this year in diamond revenues but received only about $30 million between January and March.
Last month, he criticized what he called the militarization of diamond mining and said the company Anjin, jointly owned by the state minerals enterprise and China, remitted none of the $75 million in diamonds it was estimated to have sold in the early part of this year.
Anjin is mostly staffed by "security personnel of all ranks" transferred to its payroll to run its operations, Biti's party said Wednesday.
Diamond mining in eastern Zimbabwe has been the subject of allegations of human rights abuses by the military and police and illegal money laundering by Mugabe loyalists.
Biti's party said it feared diamond receipts were being used to prop up state institutions controlled by Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Biti had promised to increase public service salaries with diamond revenue but "threats will not produce the money as there is no such money in the treasury," Biti's party said.