Zim 'could be sitting on a time bomb'

2012-08-13 14:02
Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga. (AFP, File)

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga. (AFP, File)

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Cape Town - Zimbabwe could be sitting on a time bomb after rowdy security forces disrupted the training of census enumerators, demanding to participate in the exercise.

According to reports, government was last week forced to suspend the recruitment and induction of enumerators and supervisors for the 17 and 18 August census after armed security forces besieged training centres.

They reportedly disrupted the exercise even after cabinet set a limit to the number of armed forces that could be involved in the exercise.

Uniformed forces - poorly paid and like any government worker desperate to cash in on the extra allowance that comes with participating in the census - were livid at being left out of the process, the Daily News reported on Sunday.

So serious was the threat that it took a cabinet sitting and another special meeting between acting finance minister Gorden Moyo and security sector ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sidney Sekeramayi, Kembo Mohadi and Theresa Makone to diffuse the volatile situation.

Analysts and experts said the development was indicative of growing frustration by the military over their welfare. They said the chaos showed "it could be a rocky road ahead as a constitutional referendum and a watershed general election loom".

They said while commanders lived it up on lush farms, driving state-of-the-art vehicles, junior soldiers were roughing it up - often not being able to afford cheap public transport fares to and from barracks.

Finance minister Tendai Biti has also repeatedly refused to increase government workers’ salaries, citing low revenues.

Welfare issues

But Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga defended the force, saying Zimbabwe’s military was one of the most disciplined on the continent, despite welfare challenges.

"The principle of military subordination to civilian authority, which is the cornerstone of professionalism, was borne out of the armed struggle and not these theories, which are being talked about that are very nonsensical," Chiwenga said.

Giles Mutsekwa, who is the MDC secretary for defence and security and a former soldier, said events of the past week showed that uniformed forces could easily get out of control if their welfare issues were continuously ignored.

"Zanu-PF has always relied on violence using unsuspecting soldiers and nobody has called the soldiers to order because it suits their needs. They have been enjoying as civilians are intimidated by soldiers, but now chickens are coming home to roost," said Mutsekwa.

Despite being the pillar to President Robert Mugabe and his rich friends’ power, most soldiers earn a monthly average of $300 against a poverty line of $650 as recommended by the World Bank.

Read more on:    mdc  |  zanu-pf  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  robert mugabe  |  tendai biti  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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