MUTARE – More than a dozen soldiers and police officers are in trouble for eating food reserved for President Robert Mugabe during his visit to Manicaland province last week.
The food was meant for Mugabe and close members of his entourage but the security details consumed it after hunger struck.
Mugabe was in Manicaland last Friday to officially open the Chinese-owned Golden Peacock Hotel in Mutare. The Chinese are involved in massive diamond mining ventures with Zimbabwe government in the nearby Chiadzwa area. Sources at Mutare Central Police Station said eight police officers and seven soldiers were arrested.
The sources, who cannot be named because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the police, said the soldiers and police officers had been assigned to guard the presidential helicopter but ended up helping themselves to meals in the aircraft.
The helicopter had been left at an airstrip near Mutare Teachers’ College, which is a stone’s throw from the newly-built Chinese hotel. “They devoured the meals and the offence was only discovered when pilots to the presidential helicopter returned,” said the source.
“Upon being asked by the pilots where the food had gone, one of the soldiers spilled the beans and implicated 14 others,” said a source. Another insider said the soldiers were held in police custody for two nights from last Friday and released on Sunday.
The policemen implicated in the food case were freed on Monday although internal disciplinary measures could follow. Acting Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Enock Chishiri said the matter was out of his hands and could only be handled by his superiors in Harare.
“I cannot comment on that one. Speak to Chief Superintendent Andrew Phiri,” said Chishiri. Phiri was not answering his phone when the Daily News tried to get a comment yesterday.
There have been numerous reports of soldiers and policemen fainting on national events due to hunger and fatigue, while army chiefs have routinely complained of food scarcity at barracks.