Skip to comments.Mugabe's Military Might Fades In Pay Crisis
Posted on 08/26/2007 5:56:39 PM PDT by blam
Mugabe's military might fades in pay crisis
By Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 1:16am BST 27/08/2007
Zimbabwe's military strength, upon which Robert Mugabe's political survival depends, is seeping away due to the country's collapsed economy.
British-made Hawk trainer: the only pilot has gone
Once among the best trained and most battle hardened in Africa, the military is now suffering a rash of defections among servicemen who are no longer prepared to put up with subsistence wages.
One young officer cadet who went AWOL in May asked not to be named by The Daily Telegraph, nor for his home village to be identified in case of reprisals.
The son of a former veteran of President Robert Mugabe's liberation war, this 26-year-old now works across the border in Johannesberg. He earns between £100-£150 a month working seven days a week for a Zimbabwe-run security company.
This is at least 25 times what he used to make in the Zimbabwean airforce, which has now also run critically short of planes.
The former airman said: "We didn't have enough food to eat when we did fly, and our pay was Z$150,000 (about £4 in April). We complained but they said everyone was suffering from British sanctions.
"At home I saw friends who didn't have a secondary school education coming from South Africa with many things, and we had absolutely nothing, I couldn't even buy food for my mother.
"Last year I spent four months without flying and that was when I started thinking of leaving."
The man was stationed at the Thornhill airforce headquarters, outside Gweru, a shabby town in central Zimbabwe, 160 miles south west of Harare.
Out of a force which at one time had scores of fighter planes, he said only one Chinese MiG21 and four MiG23s were still working.
Zimbabwe's airmen used to be trained on British Hawks, but Britain along with the EU and the US banned sale of military hardware to the nation.
"There is still one Hawk, but the only pilot who flies is gone," he added.
The base's training planes, the airman said, were now three or four old Italian Genet SF260s and TPSF 260s.
"Sometimes when I was in the air I wondered if they were safe," he said.
He added that he was the fourth from an intake of 16 officer cadets to quit.
"I phoned some of them at Thornhill and they want to know what it is like in South Africa, but we don't talk politics. I had never been to South Africa before and it is hard."
Some estimates, probably exaggerated, are that three million Zimbabweans - a third of the population - have fled the country since 2000.
A former career soldier from the Zimbabwe National Army who left three years ago also came along for the interview to make sure his young friend's identity was protected.
"The army was professional. Now it is political," said the veteran who fought in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"I now see plenty of army guys here, some now driving trucks from the coast to Johannesburg. We would go home and vote next year if the opposition re-unites. If it doesn't, Mugabe will win the elections."
The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's opposition, split into two factions in 2005.
Gotta love that Karma thing PING!
The Democrats gaze upon the wonders of the great cultures of Zimbabwe, North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, Cuba, or any other failed-state communistic kakistcracy and they see the future that they desire to bring to America.
Thats the ticket!
Its Whitey’s fault.
Every bad thing in the world is the fault of the white race and Western Civilization.
Long Live Rhodesia!!!
Long Live Rhodesia!!!
It’s going to be fun watching China foreclose on the country.
He doesn’t want to reveal his identity, but he gives enough information that Mugabe’s people could figure out who he is.
Hmm...if a pilot was making the equivalent of seven bucks a month, one might suspect that the ground crew were stewing their own boots for supper. That may a warning sign of an ineffective safety program, but what do I know?
You don't need an air force to crack heads. As long as Mugabe can arm his thugs with AK-47's he'll do just fine. But when those guys run out of stuff to steal, look out.
LOL, but what are they going to do with it when they own it? I’m sure it has great natural resources, but ....
I’m glad this is one headache we haven’t involved ourselves in... yet.
We won't either.
It's to UnPC for US troops to be seen killing Black people. That's why we paid Ethiopa to go roust Al-Qa'eda out of Somalia and only supported them with air power.