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Mnangagwa's military salary concept richly deserved

15 Aug 2019 at 07:17hrs | Views
Our soldiers work very hard for us. They defend the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. They make, promote and maintain peace. From time to time, the Government calls on them to lead in the response to national emergencies such as floods, droughts and so on.

They give us that sense of personal and collective freedom and security. In many jurisdictions, clear mechanisms are in place to show recognition of their immense roles to the wellbeing of the nation.  

They tend to get preferential treatment that is consistent with the special place they hold in countries. They earn comparatively higher salaries than the average civil servant.  

They are entitled to good housing and access to loans and health services. Their dietary needs are assured for no country would want to entrust its security in a hungry, malnourished army.      However, in our country the men and women who exist to defend us; who put their very lives on the line for our security, are bundled together with everyone.

In saying this, we must assert, we are not disregarding the important roles that are played by other Government workers but soldiers, being soldiers are unique thus deserve special treatment. The Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Mnangagwa made this clear on Defence Forces' Day on Tuesday.  We totally agree with him.

He said the prevailing economic challenges and the austerity measures that the Government has instituted to haul the economy out of those challenges, have impacted negatively on the welfare of every Zimbabwean, including that of soldiers.  After extolling the important work they do for their country, he said there was a need for soldiers to be rewarded well.

"Since the attainment of Independence, our country has enjoyed its constitutionally-enshrined rights, peace and stability as a result of the loyalty, selfless dedication and sacrifices of these fine men and women of our nation," he said.

"The role of our defence forces has never been an easy one since the years prior to Independence when young brave men and women waged a relentless armed struggle against the British settler colonial rule. Thousands of our gallant fighters and civilians perished in the quest for the freedoms we enjoy today. Our nation continues to take stock of the loss of life and limb occasioned by the armed struggle. In view of the ever changing, socio-economic and technological and security architecture, the modernisation and capacitation of our defence forces has become urgent and imperative. "My Government is therefore prioritising the upgrading of equipment as well as facilitating focused training of specialised units in both the Army and Airforce. The provision of skills training and raising the forces preparedness in general will also receive my administration's full support," he said.

He added that that Government was also working to improve the ZDF's conditions of service.

"My administration remains committed to improving the conditions of service of our armed forces. My Government is aware that our defence forces are equally affected by the economic difficulties faced by the general citizenry. Efforts are at an advanced stage to re-introduce the military salary concept.  We shall equally expedite the construction of accommodation facilities for the armed forces. Notable housing projects under construction are the Dzivarasekwa and Mbizo schemes, which when complete will provide accommodation for commissioned and non-commissioned officers. The Transitional Stabilisation Programme which promotes production and restricts Government spending is ongoing with its attendant reform measures. The medicine to cure our economic ailment will be bitter and often painful whether within household or at State level. But the darkest hour comes before dawn," President Mnangagwa said.
 
The Government has been doing well in its treatment of health staff. They are given regular and better salary reviews and now enjoy more flexible working periods. These comforts are in line with their unique role in the wellbeing of the nation. It will not be surprising if such recognition is given to soldiers.   

We are glad that the President spoke about the need to improve the housing needs of soldiers in and outside the barracks, the need to mobilise more modern tools of their trade and better training. His pledge to re-introduce the military salary concept is gratifying and indeed long overdue.    

The members of the army and airforce thoroughly deserve these and much more.  They earn then because of their essential service to their country. They exist to defend their country, not with their words, not with their money but with their blood.

A person who plays that role is not an ordinary one.  We, therefore are of the same opinion with the Commander-in-Chief, that the men and women in fatigues must be paid more, housed better, have better access to modern health facilities, equipment and training.

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