Forces: Zimbabwe Shrinks Its Starving Army

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February 16, 2006: Zimbabwe, which has the fastest falling economy on the planet, announced that it was cutting its armed forces 25 percent, from 40,000 troops, to 30,000. This is a desperate measure, because the ruling party needs all the loyal troops it can get, to keep a starving and unhappy population in check. But president Robert Mugabe appears to have learned from dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Saddam. All of these thugs knew that the military could be a liability, if the population from which they were recruited became troublesome. A better way to keep the people under control is with terror, delivered by the scariest guys you can get (and keep happy), dressed in plainclothes. These thugs can be used to keep the military under control as well. Mugabe uses thugs working for his political party, guys who are loyal to him, and not the country or any other organization, to run the ongoing terror campaign.

The situation in Zimbabwe is so desperate that the government cannot pay most of the civil servants, and inflation quickly eats up whatever is paid out. The government cannot even feed all of its troops, which may be the main reason for cutting the armed forces. Troops have been known to loot, and generally get out of control. It may get ugly when the brass try and take away weapons. In an increasing number of cases, unpaid and hungry soldiers have simply been deserting, with, or without, their weapons.

Zimbabwe's economy collapsed largely because of government corruption, which reached its peak in the last few years, as the most productive farms (owned largely by whites) were confiscated, and given over to Mugabe cronies, who could not run them efficiently. Thus the country could not feed itself any longer, and the lost food exports hurt the economy as a whole. Mugabe is asking some of the white farmers to return, but there are few takers. The prospects for Zimbabwe are grim.

 


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