Mnangagwa mollycoddles the military




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TREASURY has allocated 18% of the national budget to the security sector, ZW$10.8 trillion (US$1.9 billion), which is a large amount in peacetime, as President Emmerson Mnangagwa moves to appease the restless uniformed forces.

Since the 2017 military coup that toppled the then president Robert Mugabe, the security sector has been complaining about deteriorating conditions of service in the face of a worsening socio-economic crisis.

The discontent also saw Mnangagwa losing at a polling station set up for soldiers at Pondoroza Barracks in Redcliff, Midlands Province, during the 23 August general elections.

This month, deputy commissioner-general of police Learn Ncube appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs, Veterans of Liberation Struggle and Security chaired by Beitbridge East MP, Albert Nguluvhe, pleading for an upward review of its budget allocation, arguing the inadequate funding of the police force is crippling operations.

Ncube said the skills and the competencies of the police sometimes leave a lot to be desired due to inadequate resources, even for training police officers.

Presenting the 2024 budget this week, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube allocated ZW$10.8 trillion to the security sector out of a total of ZW$58.2 trillion (US$10bn) budget, dwarfing other sectors such as the health and social services.

The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has been allocated ZW$2 157 038 000 000, while the ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, which caters for the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, has been allocated US$1 078 019.

The ministry of Defence and the ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage have been given the highest allocations of ZW$3 637 636 000 000 and ZW$3 931 884 000 000 respectively.

“The security forces play an important role of protecting the country’s territorial integrity, national interest and sovereignty over land and air space, against both internal and external aggression. Peace is key to economic development,” reads the budget statement.

“Whilst the country is generally characterised by a peaceful environment, the ongoing geopolitical dynamics require that the country continuously capacitate its security forces with adequate rations, training and relevant equipment, to enable them to safeguard the country’s integrity.”

“This entails the need to continuously capacitate the security forces through payment of commensurate remuneration, as well as review of non-monetary benefits, including provision of decent accommodation. Therefore, an amount of ZW$8.6 trillion has been allocated towards the security cluster to meet their remuneration, food rations, operational equipment and the necessary infrastructure.”

The security sector’s allocation is higher than the health sector, which was allocated ZW$6 311 893 000 000, which translates to 10.8%. This is also 4% lower than its target of 15% set by the Abuja Declaration.

The health and social sectors have been in a shambles.

For instance, findings by acting Auditor-General Rheah Kujinga revealed that Zimbabwe’s largest referral hospital, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which services Harare and other nearby provinces, has been operating with only one functional ambulance, reflecting the country’s continually crumbling healthcare services.

Another study titled Five Years of Progress or Stagnation published by the Sivio Institute in August, also showed that the Zanu-PF government has failed to deliver in the social services cluster that includes pension systems and allocations, housing, health and education.

The government made nine promises with regards to pension systems and allocation, with a performance of 49%, while making 15 promises in the health sector with a performance of 37%. More promises were made in the education sector, with a performance of 47% while the lowest score was recorded in housing with a score of 36%.

With the national hospitals in a dilapidating state, the government also missed its target to reduce hospital fees by at least 50% and to provide free healthcare for cancer patients, as per its 2018 promise.

In 2022, the government effected a hike in hospital fees in which adult and children’s consultation fees were pegged at US$12 and US$6, representing a 1 748% hike, sparking an outcry.

Source – newshawks