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Mugabe Ties Sanctions to Defence Forces' Low Pay

President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday said his administration will pursue all possible ways to improve the living and working conditions of the country’s defense forces, blaming the sanctions imposed on Harare by the West for crippling his efforts to ensure members of the uniformed forces earn better salaries.

Mr. Mugabe saluted members of the uniformed forces for working hard to ensure peace prevailed in the country regardless of their meagre earnings.

He said this while addressing thousands of people gathered at the National Sports Stadium to mark the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ 33rd anniversary.

The president said Zimbabweans should never take the peace they are enjoying for granted, adding the men and women in the defence forces should be adequately remunerated.

Mr. Mugabe promised Monday to increase salaries of civil servants in a 43-minute speech to mark Heroes Day.

The president said peace loving Zimbabweans should work with the defense force to fight what he said were renewed attempts by the country’s former colonizer, Britain, to recolonize Zimbabwe.

In apparent reference to the Movement for Democratic Change formations, Mr. Mugabe said it is worrying that some locals were working with western allies to dilute the efficiency of the defence force by calling for security sector reforms.

He urged Zimbabweans to work with the defence forces to resist what he says was the enemy’s strategy to destablize the country.

This year’s commemorations were held under the theme, “Zimbabwe Defence Forces in Defence of National Sovereignty, Social and Economic Development”.

Mr. Mugabe said the theme was relevant to the new Zimbabwe today as his government moves towards consolidating the gains of independence under the Zanu PF motto, “indigenise, empower, develop and employ”.

He commended Zimbabweans for giving him and his party the mandate to govern for the next five years saying this is a great opportunity for him to complete the indigenisation program.

Mr. Mugabe thanked the defence forces for their numerous community assistance projects and working with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to curb crime in border areas and the Chiadzwa diamonds fields.