Zimbabwe: Red Flag Over Security Forces Garrison Shops

Harare.
28 February 2020

Government's Wednesday announcement that it will soon roll out garrison shops where only serving security forces will access subsidized commodities has attracted criticism from Zimbabweans who feel the move is another poor effort to divide the civil service.

Amalgamated rural teachers union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) spokesperson Nation Mudzitirwa branded government's policy as a sick attempt to divide members of the civil service.

"The solution to the current crisis is not a garrison shop or any of those now common funny initiatives. The solution is production and plugging the holes of corruption.

"The latest move is a threat to labour justice in Zimbabwe. Robbing underpaid civil servants to pay another group of civil servants is a sure sign of a cabinet that has run out of ideas. We will defend our miserable wages. Hands off our paltry salaries!" he said.

During this week's cabinet briefing, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube defended the garrison scheme as an international phenomenon already in existence in progressive countries, reiterating that government was only subsidizing existing in the barracks.

Under the garrison shops scheme security forces members serving in the military and police will be issued special cards with given monthly limit to access basic commodities at cheaper prices.

"Garrison shops are the global norm, as Zimbabwe we have been late in formalising them.

"These shops have been in existence but we are only giving a subsidy to those in the security sector to improve conditions of service.

Last year Ncube promised to roll out people's silo shops to subsidise the severe roller meal shortages citizens were facing which eventually not introduced.

Zimbabwean citizen, Stephen Chaungwa questioned why the garrison shops courtesy was only limited to security forces and not being extended to ordinary citizens.

Chaungwa argued that the introduction of garrison shops was a prejudicial policy engineered to whip in line security forces against rebelling against the current administration while ordinary citizens languish in poverty.

"Ordinary citizens too can barely afford to purchase basic commodities, to make matters worse we facing a severe mealie-meal shortage and forced to queue for our own staple food.

"Government should not only consider security forces only, but also us the ordinary citizens who are also enduring the same excruciating economic hardships without a viable cushioning national scheme," he said.

Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration for only being concerned in consolidating power at the expense of suffering ordinary citizens.

"Garrison shops expose how ZANU PF uses the army for its stay in power and now wants to appease it by creating separate commodity shops for the military.

"There is nothing wrong in paying our soldiers well but don't divide workers. Government should just make all its employees live comfortably," he said.

Political and media analyst Hopewell Chin'ono argued that security forces garrison shops was clear symptom that the current regime had failed to remedy the current economic crisis and only buying time to stay in power.

"The announcement by Mthuli Ncube that the Zimbabwean Government is setting up Garrison Shops for soldiers funded means the economy has totally collapsed!

"Instead of attracting investment to builder a broader tax base, the regime is buying time," he said.

The country continues to experience economic turmoil with local currency continuously losing value eroding civil servants, and ordinary citizens' income.

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