Home » General » Mpofu Commandeers Train for Mugabe Bash

THE government has failed to recapitalise the struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) which teeters on the brink of collapse and has failed to pay its workers for nine months.

And yet transport minister Obert Mpofu announced Thursday that a train had been commandeered to transport some 1,600 people free of charge from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls next Friday for President Robert Mugabe’s birthday celebrations.

The government has traditionally grabbed ZUPCO busses for Zanu PF events but this time around Mpofu decided a whole train would be more appropriate.

The cash-strapped administration is spending about US$1million to celebrate the veteran leader’s 91st birthday at the plush Elephant Hills Hotel next weekend.

Mpofu revealed the train grab at a preparatory meeting held in Victoria Falls Friday and attended by information minister Jonathan Moyo among other top government officials.

As usual the minister claimed the so-called “birthday train” had been paid for but never showed the proof.

“We’ve secured a special train which will carry people especially from Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North for the celebrations,” Mpofu said.

“We’re looking at transporting 1,600 people. Our wish was transport and we had requested two trains but National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) said they can only provide one.

“The committee in charge should now go and talk to NRZ because we’ve paid for the train. The train will come together with the usual commuter train which will operate as usual.

“There will be a form of identification so that we don’t have people travelling for personal business getting into the 21st February Movement train.”

NRZ workers recently staged a nationwide strike demanding salary arrears going back nine months.

Management said the parastatal did not have money and was paying them 20 percent of their salaries, between $40 and $80 per month, depending on their grades.

The stricken parastatal is saddled with a $144 million debt raked up since dollarisation in 2009 and registered a $17 million deficit in the first five months of 2014, generating $44 million revenue against $61 million expenditure.

Source : New Zimbabwe