Zimbabwe Army lacks most basic training; soldiers earn 11 pounds a month

July 28th, 2008 - 12:31 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 28 (ANI): New recruits in Zimbabwes army lack the most basic training and a soldier now earns 11 pounds less than the World Banks definition of absolute poverty which is a monthly wage of 15 pounds a month.

Corporal Peter Choto, who joined the army 10 years ago, painted a vivid picture of a military machine in headlong collapse.

President Robert Mugabe relies on the army to keep him in power and its generals are now believed to be the most powerful men in Zimbabwe.

While they have grown rich, hyperinflation now exceeding two million per cent has impoverished their troops, The Telegraph reported.

Cpl Choto earns more than a private soldier and takes home 13 pounds per month.

At least three quarters of us would not take up arms for Zimbabwe, he said.

We will not go to war for Zimbabwe, I am not going to take a risk with a rifle for Zimbabwe. That time is gone, Choto added.

Cpl Choto said the only boots the army could afford were made of Chinese plastic. Chinese boots only last a few days on patrol before they are in ribbons. I have only one uniform and wear it for the week.

Soldiers survive on minimal food and Cpl Choto said he had been hungry for at least a year.

Three years ago we got porridge, sausage, bacon sometimes eggs. We always got meat at least once a day. Today, by contrast, soldiers get two plates of maize meal, known as sadza, a day, he said.

Cpl Choto said: “There are 500 recruits at the cantonment. If the world saw pictures of them, the world would be shocked as they are so thin. At least 100 report sick every day.

They are passing out next week and they havent been to the rifle range even once, because that ammo is being reserved for emergencies.

Cpl Choto admitted that he took part in the terror campaign waged against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change before the presidential elections.

I was deployed to intelligence, in plain clothes, so I didn”t have to do the beating myself, but I saw it. You have to do the beating or you are labelled MDC. Then you will just be discharged and sent to prison, he said. (ANI)

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