Twenty years ago- Too young for comfort


The multi-million dollar military headquarters that was built for Six Brigade at Battlefields was taken over by Five Brigade because, it is claimed, the soldiers of Six Brigade were too young to live in comfort and had not played any meaningful role either in the liberation of the country or bringing about the peace that now prevails.

Both Five and Six Brigades are unique units of the Zimbabwe National Army. Five Brigade was trained by North Koreans and there have been complaints that it solely recruited former ZANLA combatants.

Six Brigade, on the other hand, is largely composed of school-leavers most of whom did not fight during the liberation war. The young men were also trained by local military personnel with the majority of those in command being former members of the Rhodesian army, including the notorious Selous Scouts.

When it was formed in mid-1986, the army said it wanted young men only of between 18 and 22 with at least Junior School Certificate. Because of the influx of school-leavers most of those who ended up joining had reached O-level although some of them had one or two subjects or even none.

Unlike other units which normally did three to six months training, those who joined Six Brigade underwent a rigorous one-year training.

The latest rebuff is not new to the young men who joined Six Brigade.

Their training itself is reported to have been riddled with scandals with some senior officers reportedly cashing in on the recruits.

There have also been reports that the recruits were swindled out of thousands of dollars as they were sold some items that should have been issued to them free.

The youth were also forced to have haircuts two or three times a week because some of their top officers had an interest in the barber’s business.

The ZNA has denied the swindle though at one time the Ministry of Defence said it was investigating the matter.

The swindle was apparently uncovered by government auditors but the Auditor-General’s office denied this.

– From The Insider February 1991


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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