THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has directed that its members go on forced one-month paid leave after every month in an effort to reduce expenditure on food bills and other expenses at barracks, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Last year ZNA introduced a forced two-weeks break for soldiers every month as a cost cutting measure, but members of the ZNA revealed this week they are now expected to be off duty for a month after every month.
This means members of ZNA effectively work for six months a year although they may be recalled at no notice should there be an emergency.
The move comes at a time when there has been concern raised over security ministries gobbling up a significant amount of the national budget.
Of the total 2015 budget of US$3,6 billion presented by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last November, security ministries accounted for US$1billion, while little was allocated to ministries like Industry and Mines, which are at the heart of the economy.
Industry and Commerce got US$23,2 million and Mines US$18 million.
By comparison, Defence was allocated US$380 million, Home Affairs US$485 million and Office of the President and Cabinet — which houses the CIO — US$190 million.
Army sources, however, say the quality of food offered in canteens has been deteriorating due to a shortage of funds, while the organisation has also been failing to pay its creditors.
“We have now been asked to come to work once every two months,” said a soldier based at KGV1.
“This is part of efforts to cut costs and this is what is happening countrywide.”
Last year junior soldiers told the Zimbabwe Independent their superiors had ordered them to seek alternative accommodation when they are off duty.
The move was meant to reduce the number of personnel staying in barracks, thereby cutting down on utility bills.
In early April, a parliamentary report on Defence and Home Affairs painted a gloomy picture of the financial position of Zimbabwe’s defence forces.
The report stated that some soldiers have not been able to access healthcare because of the army’s debts.
The report also stated that Zimbabwe’s security forces were failing to fulfil all their functions because of a lack of funds.