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Zimbabwe Military Plans Recruitment Drive, Mulls Pay Increases

Following Harare’s announcement that it has purchased six more Chinese-made jet trainers, the Zimbabwe National Army says it has bought 127 new trucks at a total cost of $1.2 million and is planning to roll out a major recruitment drive.

The South African-based Web news site Independent Online quoted army chief of staff Major General Engelbert Rugeje as saying the army needs to bolster its lower and middle ranks to replace liberation war veterans soon to retire.

The army has an estimated 36,000 officers and troops whose salaries account for 90 percent of defense spending. Though the army reportedly has had trouble feeding and paying its existing forces, it is considering an increase in military salaries.

But an opposition defense expert says Zimbabwe can’t afford such expenditures.

Giles Mutsekwa, a member of parliament and defense spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the army needs to be downsized.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...