Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has compromised the effectiveness of its military with some of its aged aircraft out of service, soldiers’ food rations drastically cut and debt rising beyond its capacity to pay.
Presenting a 2016 report on budget allocations and expenditure for the military to parliament on January 26, Oliver Mandipaka, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on defence said treasury should increase allocations to the security sector and take over its debt.
“The ministry was allocated a total amount of $340,522,000 of which $292,492,000 cover employment costs leaving only $48,030,000 for other programmes,” Mandipaka said. “This allocation of $48 million is only 15 percent of the ideal requirement of $320 million which was budgeted for to cater for the critical prioritised expenditure items of the ministry. This is gross underfunding considering that 85 percent of these critical expenditure items were not allocated any funds during the 2017 financial year.”
“The Zimbabwe National Army was allocated only $6.2 million from its actual bid of $95 million to cover rations only. With this $6.2 million it means that each soldier has to use $0.40 per day which is far below the ideal ration scale of $17 per soldier per day,” said Mandipaka.
The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) is also underfunded, hampering its capacity to meet some of its statutory and constitutional obligations. This has resulted in the department accumulating a debt of $61.5 million.
“In addition the AFZ failed to pay for medical services for its members – a situation which reduces the productivity, motivation and efficiency of the forces,” he warned.
Zimbabwe lacks enough serviceable equipment, combat vehicles, self-propelled artillery, arms and ammunition to improve internal capacity and efficiency of its military, he said. Yet, the total capital expenditure funds disbursed was below 10 percent of the allocated funds for the past three years. Last year for example, $1.5 million was provided for military procurement which is far below the required $29 million. As a result, soldiers are working with an old stock of assets and equipment, according to the report.
The air force, parliament was told, has not been supported on maintenance and capital acquisition for the past three years.
Said Mandipaka: “Currently, the AFZ is operating with aircraft which have limited life spans due to infrequent servicing and this affects duties such as fly pasts, search and rescue operations and training. Most of the aircraft require total engine overhaul and this is very costly. Ideally the AFZ requires $16,000,000 for aircraft maintenance and $23,700,000 for the overhaul of AFZ platforms but only $2,020,578 was allocated.”
The committee recommended that treasury takes over the ministry of defence’s debt to help boost operations this year and into the future.