‘Army morale at rock bottom’ 

Source: ‘Army morale at rock bottom’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe

DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri sensationally told Parliament yesterday that morale among members of the Zimbabwe National Army had hit rock bottom as a result of the failing economy and that many were now tempted to engage in corrupt activities to make ends meet.

BY MOSES MATENGA/HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

Muchinguri was appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs led by acting chairperson Chiredzi South MP Kalisto Gwanetsa (Zanu PF), where she outlined a myriad of
challenges soldiers are facing in the discharge of their duties, including hunger, inadequate transport and obsolete machinery.

The challenges, Muchinguri said, had also impacted negatively on efforts by the army to effectively assist the police in enforcing COVID-19 national lockdown regulations, insisting that temptations for corruption come in situations where security forces do not have food.

“As I have indicated that at our borders, we have a stretch of 3 000 kilometres and really, when you are not well-resourced in terms of transport and also food, this challenge that you mention of the allegations that you level, temptation comes in some situations,” Muchinguri said.

She was responding to allegations that soldiers and police officers were demanding bribes to facilitate passage for returnees sneaking into the country without being screened.

Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe three weeks ago named the opposition, churches, civic society organisations, senior government and military officials in a plot to oust President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

There has been speculation that, Mnangagwa, who came to power through a coup in November 2017, would also be deposed through a coup by soldiers unhappy with the deteriorating economic situation in the country.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic situation in a decade, characterised by hyperinflation, liquidity challenges and shortage of basic goods, observers say were a result of bad governance and policy inconsistency.

But Muchinguri yesterday blamed the deplorable situation in the military barracks on sanctions, before pleading with the committee to make resources available to her ministry in order to restore the dignity of the military.

She added: “As I have already alluded to, that because we are not adequately resourced, our soldiers do not have the rations that must accrue to them, hence the temptation where they require food. We have heard about it, we are investigating to establish where this is happening.”

The Defence minister said soldiers were not only victims of hunger, but also at high risk of contracting the deadly COVID-19 as they do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

She said Treasury had not availed adequate funds to her ministry to buy PPE for soldiers.

“Constraints such as shortage of PPE are serious challenges to their effectiveness and safety. Inadequate funding for food, transport and fuel which became perennial after the imposition of illegal sanctions, also take its toll on both the morale of the troops and effectiveness,” Muchinguri, who is also the Zanu PF national chairperson, said.
“Shortage of institutional accommodation further complicates matters because under such circumstances, ZDF [Zimbabwe Defence Forces] members are supposed to stay away from their families to avoid transmitting the disease, but this is not possible due to shortage of barrack accommodation.

“The lack of a military hospital is making the situation even worse.

“To all intents and purposes, they do not go on strike when others go on strike. They are the ones brought in to bridge that gap. This is always the case especially with the Ministry of Health and Child Care medical personnel who are almost always on strike.”

Added Muchinguri: “With regards to challenges, the main challenge confronting ZDF in fighting COVID-19 is lack of resources. The scarcity of funds for normal operations of ZDF and other security arms is a matter that has been brought before this august committee many times before.

“Zimbabwe has been under economic sanctions and an arms embargo for the last 20 years. These illegal restrictions have had a negative impact on the conditions of service for members of the ZDF.

“The state of ZDF buildings and other infrastructure has deteriorated as a consequence, aged equipment, motor vehicles, arms and munitions have not been replaced for years.

“These factors have reduced the effectiveness of ZDF and other security apparatus and the advent of COVID-19 has not made matters any better.”

She said it remained a tall order to the ministry to deliver on expectations with an allocation that is hardly adequate for the soldiers’ daily routines.

“The Ministry of Defence has three main cost centres under the new budgeting framework namely defence and security, war veterans and policy and administration.

“The total annual allocated resources for these programmes in the current year are $3,112 billion. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ZDF submitted a budget of $500 million to cover three months of COVID-19 operations, but Treasury has released about $100 million which means ZDF has had to partly finance its COVID-19 operations from its own budget.”

She said with the continuous escalation of prices of food, services and other essentials, this meant the ZDF budget could be exhausted by the mid-year.

She denied allegations that soldiers on patrol in communities where they are assisting police in enforcing lockdown regulations had become notorious for harassing and beating up people, saying the ZDF was very professional.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 7
  • comment-avatar
    Dr Ace Mukadota PhD 2 weeks ago

    The fighters should go back to farming comrades – turn the Ak 47’s into plow shares

    • comment-avatar
      Ndonga 2 weeks ago

      Dr Ace Mukadota…the fighters go back to farming? Very few that I knew ever lifted or even saw a farming implement in their lives.
      Most that I knew were not fit for any other job apart from joining the army and kicking hell out of those they chose to.
      Our army will fall apart very soon and our soldiers will then do that they do best. Taking bribes and beating the lives out of those weaker than themselves and stealing anything that they want.
      And their Minister saying that soldiers on patrol don’t harass and beat people is a lie but her biggest lie was when she said that they are very professional. Professional oppressors but never professional soldiers.

    • comment-avatar
      Nyoni 2 weeks ago

      Minister you ZanuPF people truly amaze us. You mention all this in front of everyone but still don’t see the big picture. Create jobs etc is the goal of any government . The more jobs the more wealth created and it goes on and on. Getting rich for oneself is not the idea. Institutional stupidity is not the way forward.

      • comment-avatar
        Dr Ace Mukadota PhD 2 weeks ago

        ZANUPF and its virus friends have a monopoly on the stupidity thing comrades. Anyone in ZANUPF is unfortunately not blessed with too much inside the brain. But then again us and our relatives in the bush keep voting them back into power.
        So in the end we, in ZW, are all to blame for our predicament are we not ?

  • comment-avatar
    MILES R ANDERSON 2 weeks ago

    The inevitable decline in the soldiers welfare is nothing to do with sanctions, but as always the politician seize on it as an excuse for their own incompetence and corruption.
    Billions of dollars meant for the soldiers and the ZDF’s infrastructure has been gleaned from Marange, but it has been siphoned off by the usual suspects. Their is no need for an army of 34000, Zimbabwe has no enemies, but they remain there only to keep the citizens in order.
    Any soldier reading this should perhaps realise he is being used to enrich a few, and when he does perhaps he will start to foment another coup which will finally free Zimbabwe from Zanu PF. The once proud Zimbabwean soldier deserves better yet he or she has constantly been used to either enrich politicians, rich white businessmen and generals as was done in the DRC, or to constantly harrass and keep in check a starving and disgruntled population.Amongst them their is a Daniel who will confront the chefs and put them all in jail which is where they really belong.That Daniel is Zimbabwe’s only hope.

    • comment-avatar
      Dr Ace Mukadota PhD 1 week ago

      Sadly very few soldiers are able to read and write Comrade Miles – they come from the bush mainly and view their job in the army as many steps above life as a subsitence person in the bush.

  • comment-avatar
    j.Matabeleland 1 week ago

    At independence, we inherited one of the best performed armed forces (person for person) in the world. Google up British Government Hansard records of the late 1960’s and read why the British Military advised against mounting a campaign against Rhodesia.

    By 1980, more than 60% (maybe 70%) of Rhodesian military were NOT white. These men were well performed and well regarded. Whether they were RAR, Selous, Grays, BSAP or any other unit, they had been trained to become outstanding professionals. Where did they all go? How many took off overseas with the whites? We no longer have a highly professional, skilled, dignified and compassionate agency committed to supporting and defending our citizens any more. Instead we have a lawless band of degenerate opportunist thugs – controlled by a villainous and self serving political leadership! Of course our army is now rubbish!!