- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 5, 2003

HARARE, Zimbabwe (Agence France-Presse) — President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been given a sixfold salary increase, even as his country battles famine, fuel and medicine shortages, soaring unemployment, and unchecked inflation.

The paychecks of Mr. Mugabe’s Cabinet ministers and of members of Parliament have also been sharply increased, a Zimbabwean newspaper revealed yesterday.

The state-run Herald newspaper said Mr. Mugabe would receive $24,000 a year, up from the $3,674 announced last year.

But the Herald, which closely reflects government thinking, said the president’s pay increase “is still far less than what chief executives of most companies are earning.”

Mr. Mugabe, under fire from the Bush administration for his repressive economic and political policies, was unrepentant yesterday, warning President Bush that he will be spurned if he tries to dictate how southern African leaders run their countries when he visits the region this week.

“Any dictating to us will never be heeded by any of us in this region,” Mr. Mugabe told thousands of ruling party supporters at a rally in southern Zimbabwe.

“If [Mr. Bush] is coming to dictate to us to how we should run our countries, then we will say ‘Go back. Go home, Yankee,’” Mr. Mugabe said.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has called for Zimbabwe’s neighbors to pressure Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled his country since independence in 1980, to step down.

According to the Herald, other government officials, including the two vice presidents, Cabinet ministers, the speaker of parliament and governors in the country’s eight provinces would also receive significant pay increases.

Vice Presidents Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda will be paid $21,800 each, up from $3,186 a year.

Cabinet ministers will receive $19,470, up from $2,800, and parliamentarians — including those of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change — will have their annual pay increased to $13,216, up from $2,124.

The new salaries were in an official government announcement published Friday.

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