Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi says his ministry had no plans of recruiting more into the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) and would maintain the current establishment due budgetary constraints as the economy continues on a free fall.
Sekeramayi was responding to MDC Senator James Makore who was asking why government was still recruiting whilst struggling to pay.
“It is good practice to recruit so that we maintain the strength of our army. There are also those who pass on. Therefore, we have such factors to contend with. At the moment, since we are in a time of peace, there is no conflict; we are maintaining the same levels. We are not adding anything to our current establishment,” Sekeramayi said.
Sekeramayi said the ongoing recruitments were not adding anything to the establishment and were just to fill in vacancies due to deaths, retirement and ill health.
“Every country has soldiers, they are just as good as the generality of the people in that they are young, middle aged and those who are old. The old ones will retire, there will be recruitment to replace those who have retired,” said Sekeramayi.
Zimbabwe has been struggling to pay civil servants and has a bloated wage bill, characterized by late salaries amid reports of plans to retrenchment to ease government salary burden.
The army gets first preference in payment of salaries that are paid in batches. Zimbabwe has also maintained the 1985 nursing staff levels due to constant budgetary constraints.
With Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate hovering over 90 percent, school leavers who had hope to join the army would have to wait until the economy stabilises as most government departments are rationalizing its workforce.
The Defence Minister said government would maintain the status quo.
“The recruitment which is happening in each province is being done to ensure that we maintain the establishment that we currently have in line with our economy and the security of our country, we are maintaining the status quo,” said Sekeramayi.
Sekeramayi said his ministry was in the process of aligning the Defence Act to the new constitution