By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
7 February 2014
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces are reportedly operating on a shoe-string, putting their operational duties in jeopardy, a parliamentary report has revealed.
The report on defence and home affairs says soldiers have not been able to access healthcare because of the army not paying its debts. The report adds that the police too are battling to settle debts amounting to nearly $145 million to service providers, which has resulted in some services being withdrawn.
The ministry of defence was allocated slightly more than $356 million, which amounts to 8.9% of the 2014 national budget but, despite that, the army chiefs have dismissed it as grossly inadequate considering the ministry’s needs.
The heads of the military, police and CIO are among a few very rich individuals in the country because of their strong links to the ruling party.
For the 2013-2016 period, the report indicates that the defence ministry’s seven priority areas are all under threat because of underfunding. Those areas are the maintenance of existing defence force equipment and facilities, training, re-equipment, refurbishment and upgrading, research and development, defence projects and food security.
Meanwhile, Air Zimbabwe’s two A320 Airbuses have been grounded at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the last four months, amid reports the planes were unserviceable.
NewsDay reported on Thursday that grounding of the Airbuses adds to the woes of the national carrier that now has only two planes in the air servicing the Harare-Johannesburg route and the domestic market. They are a Boeing 737 and a leased Embraer jet.
The third functional plane is a Boeing 767 which is used when the 737 is down or when President Robert Mugabe is travelling outside the country.