PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday pledged to review and improve working conditions for soldiers to raise their morale ahead of crucial elections next year.
Speaking during the 37th Defence Forces Day commemorations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Mugabe also ordered his government to resuscitate housing programmes for soldiers.
“However, a lot is still to be done to provide the forces with medical support, housing, salaries and allowances. In this regard, the military salary concept, which was stopped following dollarisation, should be considered for reinstatement,” he said.
“It is strongly recommended that the housing projects in Dzivarasekwa, Khumalo and Zimbabwe Military Academy aimed at improving housing provision for ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) should be resuscitated.”
The military has always received its salaries and bonuses ahead of all other civil servants for the past decade, as Mugabe’s regime strives to keep them happy, although of late there has been increasing cases of indiscipline among soldiers.
“Some elements (security services) are beginning to get out of control. That incident when a few soldiers took to the streets to beat policemen is regrettable. I discussed it with the commanders and that they should talk about it and try to prevent its recurrence,” Mugabe said.
He lauded the military personnel for raising the country’s flag high during peacekeeping and demining missions throughout the world.
Mugabe said Zimbabwe was on target to meet the 2025 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personal Landmines which were still scattered in most parts of the country 37 years after independence.
“The international community should also give us assistance and not simply expect us to complete the work without aid,” Mugabe said.
Zimbabwe has a lot of anti-personal mines that were planted by the colonial regime during the liberation struggle to stop freedom fighters based in neighbouring countries to cross into the country.