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By Lebo Nkatazo

ZIMBABWEAN soldiers could starve if the government does not intervene with a financial rescue plan before the end of June, MPs were told on Tuesday.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Trust Maphosa told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs that they were allocated Zim$32 billion to spend on rations for the whole year, but it has been exhausted.

The committee which is chaired by Zanu PF Bikita West MP Claudious Makova, a former soldier, had called for the hearing to get information on the army’s first quarter budget performance.

Maphosa revealed he was scheduled to hold crisis meetings with Ministry of Finance officials late Tuesday to secure more funding for the defence forces.

“For rations, we were allocated $32 billion and so far we have used 92
percent of that," Maphosa said. "What that means is that we have been left with just eight percent to take us for the rest of the year.

"In reality, we do not have anything because that money (remaining 8 percent) will go towards transport costs."

Maphosa told the MPs that all along they have been moving money from other areas to boost the food budget.

He said the army had no other source to raise the funds except through
treasury, which is why he was seeking an emergency meeting with finance ministry officials.

Currently the armed forces of Zimbabwe are completely integrated and are composed of an army (ZNA) and an air force (AFZ). The ZNA currently has an active duty strength of 30,000. The air force has about 5,000 men assigned.

Thousands of soldiers have quit in recent months over poor pay, with many enlisting as security guards in neighbouring South Africa.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in history, with inflation projected to hit the 4000% mark by the end of the year.


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