Senior defence forces members held a crisis meeting with President Robert Mugabe to discuss the increasing incidents of indiscipline among rank and file members of the uniformed forces.
The meeting on Thursday at the Defence Forces Headquarters lasted three hours. The officers are reported to have told Mugabe that they were now afraid of reviewing parades in the military barracks because of the increasing hostility and indiscipline. “Senior Defence Forces officers met President Mugabe at Defence House. The meeting was attended by all senior army chiefs.” said a army source.
Among some of the senior defence forces personnel who attended the meeting were Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander, Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander, Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander, Air Marshal Perrence Shiri, and his Number Two, Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena.
There had been a public outcry to Muchena’s shock revelation after telling mourners at the burial of Peter Gono, the deceased brother of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, that the security chiefs stood solidly behind the beleaguered central bank chief, who has openly admitted that he illegally withdrew funds from the foreign currency accounts of clients, including NGOs and tertiary institutions.
Chiwengwa is said to have pleaded with Mugabe to sort out the welfare of members of the uniformed forces saying: “We are sitting on a time bomb.”
Said the source “Chiwenga spoke about the welfare of service men. He told Mugabe that something must be done to improve the salaries and working conditions of the armed forces.”
He is said to have even told Mugabe that many senior officers were now afraid of reviewing parades in the military barracks because of the increasing hostility and indiscipline that many soldiers were said to be displaying. “He told Mugabe that it would not be surprising if one was shot at while reviewing a parade,” said the source.
Indiscipline was said to be particularly rampant among young officers who are said not to be happy with the US$100 that they are being paid by the new coalition government. It was recommended that service firearms should be withdrawn from members of the security forces. Sources say is to limit the prospect of a mutiny.
At the height of political disturbances last year, a group of soldiers went into the streets of Harare and ransacked shops while beating members of the public up indiscriminately.
The soldiers involved in the rampage were wearing military fatigues.
The then minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, apologised to the nation for the behaviour of the soldiers.