No wedding bells for Zimbabwe’s soldiers

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) have effectively banned its officers and ordinary soldiers from marrying each other – and this includes those who are already married.

ZDF comprises of the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) and the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), both under the command of general Philip Valerio Sibanda.

In an internal circular dated January 18 2019, which came into effect on February 1, Sibanda said the “Fraternisation Policy” was to avoid violation of “good order and military discipline”.

It also applies in retrospect, meaning that those already married will also be expected to comply.

“Those who were already married to each other prior to the promulgation of this policy [before 1 February] are given six months to comply with the requirement, failure to which action will be taken in terms of the policy,” reads the communication.


Soldiers patrolling streets in Zimbabwe amid civil unrest over a massive spike in fuel prices last month. 
Image: PacheduZW via Twitter


The policy entails that soldiers may have to decide which one in the couple should leave service, and should notify command by March 31. Failure to do so also carries a penalty of both being fired from the army.

In future, marriage between soldiers is outlawed.

“Those that will breach the policy after its promulgation will be discharged forthwith according to the policy,” the army commander said.

In 2013, Nester Chidembo and Emmanuel Masendeke, both serving in the army at the time, were dismissed after Chidembo had fallen pregnant before the expiry of a three-year probation.

They took their matter to the High Court citing illegal expulsion. The matter is still before the courts.

Sources within the army told TimesLIVE that the standing orders have always been there, but were regularly flaunted as even senior commanders and their wives hold ranks in the army.

In many armies the world over, the rules seek to prevent inappropriate relationships between higher-ranking personnel and their subordinates.

According to the US Army’s fraternisation policy, intimate relationships are prohibited if they fall into any of the following categories:

  • Compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of supervisory authority or the chain of command;
  • Cause actual or perceived partiality or unfairness;
  • Involve, or appear to involve, the improper use of rank or position for personal gain;
  • Are, or are perceived to be, exploitative or coercive in nature; or
  • Create an actual or clearly predictable adverse impact on discipline, authority, morale or the ability of the command to accomplish its mission


Originally published by Sowetan LIVE

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