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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Zimbabwe 'unable to feed troops'
By Peter Biles
BBC southern Africa correspondent, Johannesburg

Food Aid
Zimbabwe has admitted millions of its citizens now need food aid
The army in Zimbabwe is no longer able to feed all its soldiers, military analysts in southern Africa have said.

The Institute for Security Studies, based in South Africa, told the BBC that the army had run out of money to buy adequate daily rations.

This week, soldiers spoke of being sent home on forced leave. The army denied it was because of food shortages.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Zimbabwe's economy is in decline and food security is an urgent issue.

'No dissent'

The Institute for Security Studies has been making a detailed assessment of the state of Zimbabwe's armed forces.

Its analysts say that on the basis of information from inside Zimbabwe, the military is now experiencing the same problems as other government departments - namely, that it has run out of money.

They argue that a combination of factors is to blame: economic mismanagement, the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar, international sanctions and drought.

This has resulted in some soldiers being sent home on leave as the army cannot afford to feed them, they say.

However, the military experts describe Zimbabwe's armed forces as professional, disciplined and loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

There is no suggestion at this stage of any widespread dissent within the ranks of the army.

A Zimbabwean army spokesman has insisted there is enough food for the soldiers, although the government admitted this week that more than two million people in the country needed emergency food aid.

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