Inflation could prove Mugabe’s Achilles’ heel

HARARE - Runaway inflation could prove key to unhinging President Robert Mugabe's decades-long grip on power as disaffection swells among lower-ranking soldiers and police, increasingly finding it hard to survive on a rapidly depreciating Zimbabwe dollar. University of Zimbabwe political scientist,

Eldred Masunungure, said discord between poorly paid foot soldiers and police on one hand and their well-fed commanders on the other would threaten social stability and if unchecked could lead to the unthinkable happening – a mutiny by the security forces. While senior police and army commanders earn huge salaries and are feted with a wide range of perks including the latest Sport Utility Vehicles, their men and women in the camps are battling to feed their families as rising inflation continues to whittle down their small salaries. For example, after the government this month awarded all its workers including the security services a 231 percent salary increment, a junior soldier or police officer will now earn about Z$7 million per month. Military experts say Mugabe’s problem began when he transformed the security forces into an extension of his ruling party, undermining professionalism and ethics, all in a bid to consolidate his hold on power. It worked then because at the time the bulk of those serving in the police and army were former fighters in the 1970s independence war who were accustomed to taking orders from political leaders of the liberation struggle. Former soldier and now main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party defence spokesman Giles Mutsekwa said the situation was now different with the younger crop of men and women recruited after independence now forming a considerable fraction of the security services. Mugabe cannot expect loyalty from this new generation of soldiers and police officers on the basis that he led the liberation struggle alone, Mutsekwa said. – ZimOnline.

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