Military of Zimbabwe

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The Armed Forces of Zimbabwe are composed of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air Force of Zimbabwe. The most senior commander of Zimbabwe's army is currently General Constantine Chiwenga. As a landlocked country, Zimbabwe has no navy.

The Zimbabwe armed forces had an estimated strength of 29,000 in 2007. The ZNA had an estimated 25,000 personnel. The air force had about 4,000 men assigned.[1] In July 1994 the combined Zimbabwe Defence Forces Headquarters was created.

The main service rifle is the AKM assault rifle.

It has been alleged by opposition leaders that the military has gained control of political life in Zimbabwe following the 2008 elections that saw the MDC become the majority party in the Parliament.

There are strong paramilitary forces. In 2007 the IISS estimated that the Zimbabwe Republic Police had 19,500 personnel, including an Air Wing, and that there was an additional 2,300 personnel in the Police Support Unit.[1] Separately Paramilitary Police have been reported.



At the time of independence, the then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe declared that integrating Zimbabwe's three armed forces would be one of Zimbabwe's top priorities. The existing Rhodesian Army was combined with the two guerilla armies; the 20,000-strong ZANLA forces of ZANU-PF and the 15,000-strong ZIPRA forces of PF-ZAPU. A British Military Assistance and Training Team played a pivotal role in assisting the creation of the new army, and was still in place in 2000.[2] The Rhodesian Air Force was eventually reorganised as the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

In 1999, the Government of Zimbabwe sent a sizeable military force into the Democratic Republic of Congo to support the government of President Laurent Kabila during the Second Congo War. Those forces were largely withdrawn in 2002.



Further reading

  • Abiodun Alao, 'The Metamorphosis of the “Unorthodox”: The Integration and Development of the Zimbabwe National Army,' in Terence Ranger, Soldiers in Zimbabwe's Liberation War
  • Norma J. Kriger, ‘Guerrilla Veterans in Post-war Zimbabwe: Symbolic and Violent Politics,’ 1980-1987, Cambridge UP, 2003

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