Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday rubbished utterances by the Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff General Staff, Major-General Martin Chedondo, that the army would recruit people from the villages even those without qualifications.
Contrary to what Chedondo said last month while addressing 3 000 soldiers from 2 Brigade undergoing a battlefield training exercise in Mutoko, Mnangagwa said the army was actually planning on upping the requisite qualifications for soldiers instead of taking recruits without “O” Levels.
Mnangagwa was responding to a question by Magwegwe MP Felix Magalela-Sibanda (MDC-T), who demanded to know government policy as regards the recruitment of soldiers without requisite qualifications.
Sibanda also claimed he had evidence to that effect as some of his relatives had been recruited without the requisite “O” Levels.
Kwekwe Central MP Blessing Chebundo (MDC-T) also questioned whether the army was on a recruitment drive.
But Mnangagwa said: “After 13 years of Parliament experience, the honourable member must be able to distinguish national policy from pronouncements and our policy is to upgrade the level of entrance in the Defence Forces.
“By referring to villages, the policy makes sure that every province is covered and we have not lowered the entry requirements in the Defence Forces — in fact, we have upped them and you may be aware that in Southern Africa we shall soon be opening a national college for excellence in military strategies.”
He said it automatically meant the entrance levels would have to keep up with excellence strategies to be achieved.
On Sibanda’s issue that his relatives were recruited into the army without “O” Levels, Mnangagwa said it was because some regions did not have qualified people willing to join the army.
“We are conscious of the need that the army should be composed of all regions in the country and we unfortunately find it difficult sometimes to secure enrolment in some parts of the country because most of young persons with qualifications have gone out of the country.
“In those circumstances, in order to keep a balance we may grant exceptions.
“If honourable Sibanda’s relatives have entered without the requisite qualifications and he is aggrieved with that, we can attend to that issue,” Mnangagwa said.