HARARE: More that 10 000 people have been hired “illegally” in Zimbabwe by ministries run by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, including those responsible for the army and police, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has warned.

Biti has been tasked with implementing austerity measures as the beleaguered country tries to dig itself out of a deep economic hole. But the minister, a member of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – Zanu-PF’s partner in government – has had trouble reining in ministries run by Mugabe’s party.

“The two chief culprits are the Ministry of Defence, which employed 4 600 since January, and the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has recruited 1 200 personnel without Treasury approval,” Biti told parliament last week.

Their recruitment has also raised deep concerns in the country, where polls have been fraught with violence over the past decade. “All indications are that the military is preparing for elections and for a violent election, like in 2008,” said Dewa Manhinga, an SA-based political analyst.

The military has in recent months vocally supported Zanu-PF and dismissed the MDC, which is led by Mugabe’s main 2008 rival and current prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. – Sapa-dpa