By Staff Reporter
Portfolio Committee on Defence, Security and Home Affairs chairperson Levi Mayihlome has called on Finance Minister to consider including foreign currency on the budget allocation for defence in 2020 arguing that there might need to buy warplanes and their spare parts from outside the country.
Speaking during the 2020 budget debate in the National Assembly, Honourable Mayihlome said the foreign currency is necessary since Zimbabwe does not manufacture warplanes.
“I am just appealing to the Minister that in your Budget for Defence especially for Air Force, you must consider that some of the funds required involve forex, especially when we are talking in terms of planes.
“We do not manufacture planes in this country; therefore the spares parts require forex. Therefore I appeal that you consider that there must be a forex component in that budget to take care of that,” he said.
The Umzingwane legislator also urged the Minister to allocate funds that will enable the construction of houses for soldiers and police, adding that most of them are staying in houses built by during the Rhodesian era.
“Where our security forces are staying; we need to make sure that these people stay in comfortable places. If you look at some of the houses which they are staying, they were built during the Rhodesian era – we need to consider that.
“It is a normal procedure that the police and soldiers must stay in their cantonments to instil discipline but right now they are staying in private residence because of shortages of accommodation. When they stay in private residents as lodgers, they are threatened to an extent that when there is noise in town, they cannot take any action because they are told that once you beat us, we are going to throw you out of our houses. So, we need to make sure that these people get decent accommodation.
“In terms of transport, you see soldiers, policeman along the road hitch-hiking going to work. This has created problems with the kombis because some of them do not pay since they will be in uniform and kombi drivers want their money. So, the Budget must take care of the transport issues for them,” he said.
Speaking on the same issue Beitbridge West legislator Ruth Maboyi concurred with Honourable Mayihlome adding that even uniforms used by the security sector need to be upgraded.
“…Let me turn to Defence; our soldiers do not have uniforms, at most, they have one pair and some of them do not even have the military boots. I have noticed that some of them are now putting on tennis shoes yet these people should be neat and well dressed. Therefore, I am asking the Minister to increase the allocation to this Ministry so that they may get at least two uniforms in order that they look presentable to the public.
“This Military personnel were carrying out duties in my constituency hence I paid a courtesy call on them since they were in my constituency and I observed that they had worn out shoes and this paints a bad picture to the country. As stated by the previous Member, let us put more funds to the military,” she said.
Also adding his voice to the debate, Murehwa West legislator Jonah Murewa said soldiers are starving and need to be assisted
“I am saying the budget of the soldiers and their salaries should be increased. Their accommodation, their food – we are aware of the meals that the soldiers are having on a daily basis.
“If you compare their meals today and what they used to have before, they are starving. There must be an increase in the quality of the food that they eat.
“Talking in terms of transportation – they should have army dedicated vehicles to transport them and not public transport. On the issue of the police force, they should be well equipped so that when they deal with rabble-rousers or trouble causers in this country, they can do their work,” he said.