The government has reiterated plans to build shopping malls, residential flats, garrison shops and robust armouries for soldiers in several barracks and cantonment areas.
Some political analysts view the move as part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s strategy to coup-proof his administration ahead of the 2023 harmonised elections.
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Recently, the government was criticised for allocating over $270 million for the construction of a VVIP Manyame Referral Hospital at Manyame Airbase when the country’s public health infrastructure is in a sorry state.
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet on Tuesday approved a number of projects in military cantonments to ensure a comfortable life for the military.
The Cabinet position followed a presentation by the inter-ministerial committee which visited Zimbabwe Defence Forces cantonment areas which was presented by National Housing and Social Amenities minister Daniel Garwe.
Some of the approved projects include construction of permanent physical infrastructure at William Ndangana Barracks in Chipinge which is responsible for the security of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border area. Mutsvangwa said:
Cabinet approved construction of the following structures at William Ndangana, Gimboki, Manyame Airbase and other cantonment areas: Residential flats, garrison shops and shopping malls, office accommodation and robust armoury.
Government also pledged to build 1 500 housing units at Dzivarasekwa Barracks and refurbish roads, aircraft parking bays, sewerage and water reticulation systems in the cantonment areas.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said government’s “generosity” to the military had everything to do with the forthcoming elections and also to protect the regime from any potential threats, including a coup.
Khumalo said the government could have simply improved conditions for the rest of the citizens.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said while the military must be well provided for in terms of its needs, what is lacking is a national strategy on public service delivery.
Mukundu concurred with Khumalo that there is a piecemeal approach that seeks to appease the sectors that would be “abused for political ends.