Friday, October 07, 2005

Military revolt?

THE Zimbabwean army and air force have been hit by protests over the government’s failure to increase their salaries as well as chronic food shortages at their barracks.

Military sources said this week soldiers were increasingly unsettled by government’s refusal to increase their salaries and provide adequate food supplies to the 40000-strong army.

Disgruntled armed forces pose a serious threat to President Robert Mugabe’s regime, which depends on the state security apparatus — the army, the air force and the intelligence service — for its survival....

Sources said “dozens” of soldiers had been prevented from leaving the army in protest over the current problems. Instead, they said, troops were being sent on forced leave in a bid, prompted by food shortages, to reduce numbers at the barracks.

Army spokesman Lt Col Aggrey Wushe has denied soldiers were going on leave due to food shortages, saying they had accrued leave days during the Democratic Republic of Congo war between 1998 and 2002.

The army also denied there was unrest within its ranks.

“We have food to feed them until the next financial year. We can keep them in the barracks but the days they accrued will be forfeited,” Wushe said.

“We are saying, ‘take them now or they will get forfeited’.”

(The danger might not be a coup to overthrow Mugabe, but that there will be hungry soldiers wandering around in rural areas, free to loot and steal and terrorize innocent people in order to get food etc...)

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