BY VENERANDA LANGA
THE Zimbabwe National Army is said to be using obsolete guns which were used during the liberation war and which have never been serviced since independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe’s army is also saddled with a local debt of $100 million, and a foreign debt obligation of US$25,8 million which might result in the institution being dragged to court.
This was revealed in a report on the 2020 National Budget presented in the National Assembly last week by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs chaired by Levy Mayihlome (Zanu PF).
“The organisation is still using obsolete small arms like the AK47 which have never been serviced since independence of Zimbabwe,” the Defence and Home Affairs committee report read.
“These arms and ammunition are also needed for training to impart skills to soldiers on the operation of modern military equipment,” they said.
The Defence ministry wanted an allocation of $10,1 million for arms and ammunition but they were only given $1,3 million.
On debt the report read: “The ZNA has a local debt overhang of $100 million and is expected to balloon due to inflation. This has resulted in suppliers being reluctant to provide goods and services without payment upfront and sometimes charge high prices to cover for the delayed payments. The foreign obligations for the ZNA amounts to US$25,8 million, hence the organisation may be dragged to court because of the debt.”
Last month, secretary in the Ministry of Defence Mark Marongwe told the Defence and Home Affairs Committee that the country was spending a measly 39 cents per day on soldiers’ feeding with some soldiers ending up fainting during parades due to inadequate diet while others survive on one uniform.
“Uniform and ceremonial dress is a constitutional requirement that has to be fully met. Currently soldiers are entitled to one pair of uniform instead of at least two pairs per year.
The current state of the military uniforms is deplorable, hence the need for $86,28 million to fully kit the soldiers. However, Treasury allocated merely $40,3 million for this target item,” the report read.
The Parliament report also said that there was a serious shortage of institutional accommodation in the ZNA with soldiers staying in rented apartments away from the barracks.
“Many ZNA buildings and facilities are now death traps since they have outlived their lifespan for example the so-called “misanayenzou” which were built before independence. In this regard, the ZNA submitted a bid of $167,7 million but was allocated only $13,3 million for the maintenance of physical infrastructure resulting in a huge variance of $154,4 million. The implication is reduced mobility for the troops and a compromised organisational performance,” the report said.
Budgetary allocation for the Airforce of Zimbabwe was also inadequate after they bid for $1,2 billion but were only allocated $10, 5 million, yet they urgently needed $500 million to service aircraft.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is yet to respond to the report in Parliament.