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ED backtracks on pampering military with subsidised basic commodities

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration appears to have backtracked on its idea of establishing garrison shops in barracks to ensure military personnel can buy subsidised basic commodities.

In 2020, Mnangagwa’s cabinet resolved to set up Garrison Shops to enable all members of the defence forces who will be on the Government Employees Mutual Savings Fund (GEMS Fund) to access subsidized basic commodities at their respective barracks.

Proportional Representation legislator Cathrine Gozho on Wednesday asked the leader of government business in Parliament if the government had established garrison shops in army Barracks as promised.

She asked: “In 2020, Government promised to build garrison shops in barracks so that the military personnel can buy basic commodities at low prices. Have the garrison shops since been constructed like you promised?”

On behalf of the government, Transport Minister Felix Mhona admitted that the garrison shops have not been constructed, adding that “government has ensured that the security forces are well looked after”.

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“Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would want to thank Hon. Gozho for the question. The Hon. Member is so passionate about the welfare of the military and she asked whether the garrison shops have been built.

“What I would want to explain to the august House is, the garrison shops may not have been constructed as expected but Government has ensured that the security forces are well looked after.

“I think the Hon. Minister for Defence and War Veterans will explain to the august House the important aspects concerning the welfare of the forces so that we understand what has been done,” the Minister said.

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) MP for Mbizo Settlement Chikwinya asked the Deputy Minister of Finance Clemence Chiduwa if government had capacitated the garrison shops that are already there in army barracks.

“Five Brigade, Battlefields. So, they have garrison shops. The undertaking by Government was to supply these garrison shops with subsidised basic commodities so that soldiers could buy at subsidised prices. That undertaking was made by the Minister of Finance.

“I would want to know from the Deputy Minister of Finance here present whether the present garrison shops that are already there are supplied with subsidised basic commodities so that at least soldiers can buy at subsidised prices,” he asked.

The Deputy Minister said he was not aware.

“Thank you so much Hon. Speaker. Thank you Hon. Member. On this issue, Ministry of Finance provides the resources but in terms of implementation, it is done by the parent Ministry.

“At the moment, I am not sure if they have done it, otherwise I would still need to check because the provisions were approved here in Parliament, so I would need to check if there was a budget for the garrison shops,” Chiduwa said.

Of the whole Zimbabwean security system, the military is an important sector to Mnangagwa following its role in the military coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Led by then Army General Constantino Chiwenga who is now the Vice President, the army surrendered power to Mnangagwa, making him the second President of Zimbabwe after independence.