Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri responded furiously after Norton legislator Temba Mliswa blasted her ministry for neglecting ordinary soldiers.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Mliswa said ordinary soldiers are becoming armed robbers because the government through her ministry is not looking after them well.
He quiz the minister how ordinary soldiers were benefitting from Nkululeko-Rusununguko Holdings, the Zimbabwe National Army’s investment arm.
Mliswa further accused the company of plundering resources everywhere on the basis that it is owned by the military.
With Rusununguko having access to resources, the independent legislator asked why soldiers were poor and their welfare neglected by government.
“We do not know whether those resources are for certain individuals using the name Rusununguko in the army, or Rusununguko is truly an army concern.
“We have not seen any financial reports so that when we debate on the budget of the Ministry of Defence, the income that Rusununguko makes comes in, the Minister of Finance then takes it on and does not give the Ministry of Defence all the money.
“We would like to know from accountability point of view how much money Rusununguko is making and where the money is going to because in every area, they are plundering resources in the name of Rusununguko, an army company,” he asked.
Furiously, Muchinguri responded describing Mliswa’s sentiments as “serious accusations” which were “unfounded”.
“I want to thank you for allowing me to respond to the serious accusations that have been leveled against the Minister of Defence and War Veterans in my personal capacity and also the Ministry as a whole.
“The accusations, I will list just a few, the first one being that we are not looking after our soldiers, the second one is that it is only senior officials in the Defence Forces who are abusing the funds which are meant to benefit the soldiers as a whole,” she said.
“I want to start by saying these accusations are baseless and unfounded. These are very serious accusations which we are not taking lightly.
“These accusations are coming at a time when we have recently celebrated the great work that our soldiers are doing in order to defend our independence and territorial integrity. I also want to emphasise that these soldiers are a people’s force who respect the interest of our nation and also protect the people of Zimbabwe.
“Last week when we had our Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day, His Excellency shared with the nation programmes which are lined up in order to address the interest of our soldiers. I will start Mr. Speaker, with the military salary concept which had been abandoned during the First Republic, only to be resuscitated during this Second Republic.”
She said government had started constructing houses for soldiers.
“We have started constructing 100 flats at Dzivaresekwa where we are expecting 5000 apartments by December. I want to report that we have completed the rehabilitation of William Ndangana Barracks. We have also rehabilitated accommodation of our soldiers in Mutare at Gimboki.
“We have started constructing apartments at Mbizo Barracks and also maintaining the barracks in Plumtree. We are addressing the health needs of our soldiers and I want to report that for the first time in the history of our Republic, we have managed to complete a 149 bed hospital at Manyame Base which we have every reason to celebrate and that facility will be state of the art. It will also accommodate all Members of Parliament.”