By Tichaona sibanda
SW Radio Africa
1 April 2014
The liquidity crisis facing the government has adversely affected defence operations, including delays in paying members of the armed forces their salaries.
The economic downturn in the country has forced the government to cut defence spending, which has resulted in reports of soldiers struggling to make ends meet in military barracks.
Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme says it is an open secret that members of the armed forces are not happy with many things, ranging from erratic food supplies to shortages of new uniforms.
Last week there were several reports in the media suggesting that morale was at its lowest among the security services after the government postponed their pay date.
In 2008 President Robert Mugabe faced threats of unrest from the military at the height of the country’s economic crisis, when disgruntled soldiers rioted in Harare after becoming frustrated with queuing to withdraw cash from banks.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has admitted the country’s economy is showing no sign of improvement after ZANU PF and Mugabe’s controversial ‘win’ in last years election.
Saungweme told us that as a result of the cash crisis army bosses have briefed their troops about the situation and this has seen soldiers bringing their own food to cook inside the camps.
‘The cash shortage has also seen a shortage in uniforms, camouflage such that when a soldier washes their clothes, they’ve to wait until the uniform is dry. This is because some soldiers steal the uniforms for resale. The suspects are senior soldiers who then sell the uniforms to juniors.
‘Some information I gathered, points to a situation where the army and the Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) have not recruited this year in order to save the little cash in their coffers,’ Saungweme said.