Under-pressure Finance minister Mthuli Ncube is poised to pump billions of dollars into the coffers of the military and other security clusters when he announced his national budget next week – after he warned that maintaining peace in the country was not an option.
This comes as long-suffering Zimbabweans, including those serving within the military and police, continue to reel from the deepening economic crisis, which has raised political temperatures in the country.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News in Harare on Wednesday, Ncube said citizens who questioned huge budget allocations to the Defence and Home Affairs minis- tries were offside as this “should be the norm as they are important for maintaining peace” in the country.
“Peace comes at a cost. So, you pay for the peace … we consume peace, it’s a service. Just try war and see what happens to the value of everything when you have instability.
“People complain about soldiers this and that, but let me tell you, if we do not have peace we will have huge problems,” he said.
“It’s very important that we should make sure that the security cluster is well funded, that soldiers have a decent meal, three meals a day, as well as the police,” Ncube told the Daily News ahead of his presentation of the national budget on Thursday next week.
There is growing disquiet within the rank and file of the military over the rising cost of living, poor salaries and difficult working conditions, with government now desperate for solutions to avert a security crisis.
Senior and middle-level officers, some of whom are directly involved in civil-military relations and intelligence, revealed widespread unease over the deteriorating economic situation in the country, underpinned by skyrocketing prices, high cost of living and hyperinflation, which has rendered salaries worthless.
The development has alarmed government, now frantically looking for resources to placate the army. Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told editors on Wednesday that he was alive to the prospects of instability and pledged to avail more resources to the military.