Looming starvation at army barracks

via Looming starvation at army barracks | The Zimbabwean 26.03.14

Soldiers at Bulawayo’s Imbizo Barracks and 1 Brigade are facing acute food shortages because of a severe cash crunch that has hit the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), The Zimbabwean has learnt.

Soldiers who spoke to The Zimbabwean at the two army institutions on condition of anonymity said that the food crisis must addressed “before the situation gets out of hand”.

The sources revealed that soldiers at Imbizo Barracks, located 20 kilometers outside Bulawayo, have for a long time been fed on boiled cabbages or beans harvested from an army farm because ZNA cannot afford to buy meat and other nutritious foods as used to be the case in the past.

“The only food stuffs now found in our canteen are salt, tea leaves and maize meal. Since January we have been surviving on sadza served only with boiled beans and cabbages. Most of the soldiers have since stopped dining at the army canteen, preferring to cook for themselves in their barracks,” said a highly placed source at the barracks.

The Imbizo Barracks canteen is supposed to cater for 3, 220 soldiers that included recruits who undergo rigorous training, in addition more senior army officers who stay in the camp.

1 Brigade headquarters which also houses a battalion is worst affected, with soldiers and trainees reportedly fainting during parade or drills due to hunger.

“Unlike Imbizo Barracks, 1 Brigade does not have a farm which supplies it with supplementary food like vegetables. The fitness of soldiers has been totally affected because of poor nutrition,” said a middle rank officer.

Balanced diets are necessary for military personnel to boost their physical and mental readiness and alertness.

ZNA reportedly stopped an intended February recruitment of soldiers at Imbizo due to the dire situation. Because of the worsening conditions at the barracks, soldiers’ morale is said to have reached rock bottom.

Meanwhile former soldiers who retired or resigned last year have not started receiving their pensions, a development that has further dampened the spirits of army personnel intending to leave.

It was not immediately clear why the soldiers had not started receiving their pensions, which are supposed to be processed through the National Social Security Association (NSSA).

Acute food shortages at barracks, disintegrating infrastructure and low morale are not limited to Imbizo and 1 Brigade, with army sources that these problems are common at other military and barracks and police camps.

A visit to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Braedside residential camp where details are deployed from Harare stations on a monthly basis for quick reactions showed that the place has sharply deteriorated from what it was before 2002.

The canteen used by the resident police families and reaction group details is now poorly stocked and furnished, with sit-in officers preferring to cook in their rooms whereas they used to obtain their food from the mess, while broken windows and doors go without repair.

“This is not the camp that we used to know. We used to have hotel class food here, but all that is left are cabbages, beans and poor quality sadza,” said one sergeant.

The Morris training depot where most police recruits are trained is in a similar situation, with trainees reportedly surviving on two meals a day, while some of them with families in Harare are resorting to sneaking out in the evening and returning in the morning in order to get decent meals.

A recent report by the parliamentary committee for defence revealed that the army and police were going through a severe cash squeeze.

It said soldiers were failing to access health care as the army was not remitting money to health service providers.

“The national army has outstanding medical debts, which have resulted in refusal by some private medical service providers to offer their services to ZNA [Zimbabwe National Army] members due to non-payments,” the report says.

In addition, said the report, the National Defence Forces was struggling to maintain its equipment, training facilities as well as other military projects.

These projects included the Dzivaresekwa, 5.2 Infantry Battalion housing schemes, the sewer rehabilitation project at 42 Infantry Battalion and the diagnostic laboratory at the air force’s Fylde Air Base.

The police is saddled with a $145 million debt to service providers, some of whom had stopped working with ZRP, added the report.

Treasury has been struggling to keep the country afloat due to poor revenue flows caused by the failure by many companies to remit tax, disinvestment, company closures and high unemployment, among others.

MORALE is reportedly at its lowest among the country’s security services after the cash-strapped government postponed their pay date.

The last time Zimbabwe faced the threat of unrest from the normally patient and disciplined security services was at the height of the country’s economic crisis in 2008 when soldiers rioted in Harare after becoming frustrated with queuing to withdraw cash from banks.

The government admits it is facing serious financial constraints with the country’s economy showing no sign of any positive impetus from President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s emphatic victory in last July’s polls.

The textile, farming, mining, construction, printing and retail sectors have been hit hard by company closures and downsizings, which caused by, among other things, poor power supplies, dwindling markets, and lack of capital to invest in new technologies and machinery.

The company closures have hit the government’s tax revenues, at a time little meaningful support is coming through from international development partners.

While campaigning for re-election last year, Mugabe vowed to double the salaries of State workers, a promise his Zanu PF government has failed to meet so far.

And, as the cash constraints appear to worsen, government last week changed pay dates for civil servants from the 21st of March to the 27th, citing inadequate finances.

The development appears to have riled rank and file members of the security forces with some threatening to stage protests in what could represent a threat to the country’s peace and stability.

Disquiet has been reported at the army’s KGVI base in the capital, the ZRP head offices at Morris Depot as well as in the prison services.

Security services officers, who are not allowed to go on strike, told NewZimbabwe.com that they would defy the laws if government fails to give them their money.

“It has never happened in the history of Zimbabwe that pay dates of the security services are moved; this signals a disaster,” a senior police officer stationed at Morris depot told NewZimbabwe.com at the weekend.


  • comment-avatar

    When they can’t pay the police, can’t pay or even feed the army it will all collapse, be patient it is coming

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    Zvinoita zvega. This time this government will collapse. Indeed it is coming.

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    Zvichanaka 8 years ago

    Zimbabwe does not need this large defence force anyway…it is just another waste of resources and can only be justified by Zanu PF as insurance for its continued survival. However, the same Force may soon bring this dictatorship down after being used for such a long time.

  • comment-avatar

    COLLAPSE IS NIGH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    The chickens will be coming home to roost very soon!

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    John Thomas 8 years ago

    No sympathy for these oppressors.

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    Mlimo 8 years ago

    Hey if the chickens came home to roost they would be gobbled up in no time lol ! As a prophet I see the collapse is nigh! Can’t wait to see the carnage so to speak not that I want anyone hurt just all of zanupf to be locked up and put on trial.

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    Chaka 8 years ago

    Oh… We will be attacked by the weakest country.

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    Senzachena 8 years ago

    Soldier boys, when there is no pay as well as no food take to the streets and rid us of these dreadful people. Take the old man and his whore and hang them naked from the street lights, surrounded by all the other evil men and women. Then we will be free and we will get all good people to show leadership and the country will start to become the best place on the continent which it used to be. We are relying on you, you must lead the way!!

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    Rock stone 8 years ago

    The un roadworthy vehicle is heading into a crocodile gorge

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    The Mind Boggles 8 years ago

    let them starve

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    Mapingu 8 years ago

    Tihwireyivo mashura, “Security services officers, … that they would defy the laws if government fails to give them their money.” Munyori webapa uyu akadziwanepiko tsvina dzakadayi. Since when a Zimbabwean policeman or soldier got the courage to defy government, or bluntly put to deny their husbands – Mugabe, Chihuri & Chiwenga. If such a statement was ever uttered by any member of the uniformed forces, which I doubt very-very much, then hameno kuti anga pihwa rakavira muzuva mangani. I would think anga apiwa zungunde chairo kwete chiZ or kachaso – in short dzanga dzatacha kana kushota. All know kuchivuto nekumapurisa kakuna varume – kungopfeka maburuku chete, they are other men’s wives. Saka ngavatibvire zvavo, Mugabe neZanu PF yake vanoita zvanoda navo pasina zvavanoita. Chavanogona kupfira nokurova vanhu asina mhosva & vasina pfuti kana vangotumwa nevarume vavo chete.

    To hell with these good-for-nothing-idiots. Vaifunga kuti makeni emabeef acharamba achibva kuti ivo ita basa rokupururudzira varume vavo vachiba upfumi hwenyika achinotenga nekuvaka maCastles kunana China, Cape Town, …?

    Ngazvife nezhara zvimasoja zvaMugabe. Zvaka vata sitereki – apo hazvizve maskills ekuti zvikwanise kubuda mu army macho zvitevo mamwe mabasa savamwe. Zvichaibva – regai zvakadero.

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    Roving Ambassador 8 years ago

    Bob will probably start another war to keep the army busy and get asome killed to reduce the number. He did that with DRC.

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    Reader 8 years ago

    Well who would have thought the dogs are Growling at the masters, Good, you keep teasing and see what happens Mugarbage and your Evil Murdering generals and cohorts, YOU ARE GOING TO BE BITTEN, and i hope you catch rabies and die a sorry death.

    Soldiers if you are so hungry go dig up the ones you killed in 2003, 2008 and eat the flesh of your victims, we told you Useless fools.

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    Jono Austin 8 years ago

    Oh what a horrible morning
    Oh what a horrible day
    zanu the truth is dawning
    that you’re going away

    Murderers, thieves, liars and cowards!

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    Tariro Ndizvo 6 years ago

    Ndokuti muone kuti povho irikutambura sei yamuvhundusira kuti vasbudisa zvinivatambudza.Dzidazai chinhu one vanavamai masoja anodzivirira nyika nevanhu vayo kwete hurumende inotonga Tarisai kwaenda nyika .kana zvirikupovho munoona sokuti ihaisikopo .kana povho ikapinda mumugwagwa kuratidzira kuti varume matikanganwawo navo kurova samoda kuti munhu wese site musoja kuti ararame here