Zimbabwe army excludes urban recruits to keep away MDC supporters

HARARE – Young Zimbabweans who went to city schools will be prevented from joining the army, in an apparent move to bar MDC supporters from the military, ZimLive has learnt.

The army invited applications from potential new recruits in August last year, and thousands of young, unemployed Zimbabweans applied for a career in the military.

But military sources say a further directive was issued by the army’s top brass directing that any applicants who attended a school in an urban area should not be drafted during vetting.

The move is part of a secret strategy by army chiefs to contain swelling anger in the ranks over conditions of service, which they fear could erupt in open rebellion when young, free-thinking recruits from opposition hotbeds join the army.

A senior army source who spoke to ZimLive said he felt obligated to speak out because the move was unconstitutional.

“The army should be representative of the entire community of Zimbabweans, and this kind of discrimination clearly infringes the constitution and brings shame to our military,” the official said.

In a further move to stop strikes by health workers from collapsing the health service, military chiefs have directed that the next intake for nurses should reserve a large quota for soldiers.

An official in the health ministry said the army had directed that as many as three quarters of nurse trainees for the next intake, likely in May, would come from the military.

“They hope that in the event of strikes as has been witnessed over the last two years, they will keep hospitals open using these army nurses,” the official said, asking not to be named.

The government has faced pressure from poorly paid doctors and nurses over the last year, but ministers have dedicated their time to undermining the labour movement through creating rival pro-government unions and changing laws to ban health workers from striking.

Questions left for army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore, had not been responded to.