CABINET ministers in charge of security ministries have pleaded with Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to avail more resources to security forces when he presents his 2021 national budget this week, the Daily News reports.
Speaking at a pre-budget seminar at the weekend, both Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe implored the Treasury chief to mitigate the many challenges facing the uniformed forces.
This comes as Zimbabwe is beginning to recover from the double-whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s long-standing economic crisis.
Muchinguri-Kashiri — who is also the chairperson of the ruling Zanu PF — said Thursday’s national budget should improve the welfare of soldiers.
“The minister of Finance, when he speaks on the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), says it can only be realised when there is peace and stability in the country.
“But that peace does not come cheap. It’s expensive.
“The facts which I have highlighted — climate change, Covid-19, currency depreciation and the rapid increase in inflation — negatively impacted on the welfare of our defence forces,” she said.
“On accommodation for soldiers, we are working with the minister of Housing … and we have been allocated resources. So, we are going to embark on a tour of all our cantonment areas to establish the needs of our soldiers.
“Some of the barracks were condemned. Some were built during the time of the previous regime … there is great demand for accommodation and we are working on it.
“When you speak of State power, you are looking at the provisions of tools of trade such as ammunition, arms, combat vehicles and aircraft.
“I told you that during Cyclone Idai we could not fly into Chimanimani because our helicopters are too old and they are not user friendly. These are real issues,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said further.
This was not the first time that she lifted the lid on the immense challenges confronting the armed forces.
In June, she also told Parliament how Covid-19 and the economic crisis had shattered the defence forces.
She also said then that the country had no functional military hospital, leaving soldiers and their families to join the public at State health facilities — which were reeling from challenges of their own.
“Under normal circumstances, ZDF members and their dependents are supposed to be treated at dedicated military hospitals.
“This is the trend the world over and Zimbabwe is one of the few countries that are lagging behind in this regard.
“Our plea is that resources be availed for this purpose to restore the dignity of our military forces,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
“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.
“It is indeed a tall order to expect the ministry to deliver to expectations with an allocation that is hardly adequate for the soldiers’ daily rations,” Muchinguri-Kashiri further told Parliament.
Meanwhile, Kazembe also underscored the need to give more resources to the police, to address the many challenges they are facing.
“We need to resource our police officers … As I speak here, we have got more than 400 stations without a single vehicle.
“We also need to continuously train our officers. We also need advanced technology. We also need to take care of the welfare of our police officers,” Kazembe said.
On his part, Ncube has previously told the Daily News in an exclusive interview that Zimbabweans should not see shadows behind the government’s plans to improve the welfare of the security sector.
“Peace comes at a cost. So, you pay for the peace … we consume peace, it’s a service. Just try war and see what happens to the value of everything when you have instability.
“People complain about soldiers this and that, but let me tell you, if we do not have peace you will have huge problems,” he said.