Soldiers deserve pay increment

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe who is also commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces yesterday announced that armed service personnel will see their pay rise, repudiating a cap on public-sector pay awards.

The decision follows a controversial election promise to give troops extra money to compensate them for the impact of inclusive government defence cuts.

The rise is likely to be a rare “crowd-pleaser” in an otherwise grim budget, which is set to compound the dire state of public finances.

This is an increase coming amid the soaring cost of food and household goods.

The appalling remuneration in the armed forces had decimated morale.

The lowest earning rank-and-file soldier earned less than $200, a group that includes many young troops. This was simply unacceptable.

But Mugabe, speaking at a rally to mark the annual Defence Forces Day at the National Sports Stadium yesterday, acknowledged the appalling remuneration of defence forces and promised to compensate personnel for the unique rigours of military life.

We commend Mugabe for seeking higher pay for troops.

While the extra pay is expected to pile on top of the 60 percent of government finances going to service civil service salaries, questions linger about where he will find the money in his budget, at a time GDP economic growth projections have been downsized from five percent to 3.5 percent.

Failure to honour his promise for a pay award risks exposing Mugabe to accusations that he is selling the armed forces bottled smoke for political gain.

While Mugabe and his Zanu PF are responsible for the dire economic situation we are in,  but  which the 89-year-old leader  blames on sanctions, Zimbabwe’s only leader since independence from Britain in 1980 denies mismanaging the economy and blames Zimbabwe’s woes on local and foreign foes opposed to his policy of seizing white-owned farms to give  landless blacks.

With all the economic hardships facing the nation and the forces at the moment, this is a timely boost indeed. We recognise that everyone — the military, civilians — are having a tough time at the moment. This is really helpful in the run-up to year-end.

The forces have been very busy with security and this had made army families and service personnel feel pretty unloved and undervalued.

No doubt, there was serious disgruntlement. We understand the whole of the public sector is affected but most people are not risking their lives and limbs as our illustrious armed forces are.

The news will prompt fresh joy at the new government about its treatment of the armed forces.

Morale had hit rock-bottom following pay freezes and redundancies. This is the right move, and we hope it does not amount to empty rhetoric.

Comments (1)

Soldiers do not deserve an increment because they are partisan. They are there to serve ZANU (PF) and not the nation.

Norman Sadza - 14 August 2013

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