Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Zimbabwe

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2001
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Zimbabwe, 2001, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 11,529,000
    – under-18s: 5,664,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 40,000
    – paramilitary: 21,800
  • Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 18
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: none indicated
  • CRC-OP-AC: not signed
  • Other treaties ratified: ACRWC; CRC; GC/API+II; ILO 138; ILO 182
  • There are no indications of under-18s in government armed forces.


Parliamentary elections in June 2000 were characterised by political violence and intimidation against opposition supporters.2172 Civil unrest also accompanied the occupation of commercial farms by government supporters and war veterans.2173 Zimbabwean armed forces were deployed in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in support the Government of President Kabila, although reportedly began to withdraw in March 2001.


National Recruitment Legislation and Practice

The National Service Act (NSA), Chapter 11:08, which entered into force on 1 January 1980, regulates recruitment into the armed forces. The NSA regulates recruitment and participation of residents in national service generally, and not specifically recruitment into the armed forces. Sections 10 and 11 provide that the minimum age is 18 years whether service is done on a voluntary basis or according to a call up. Every resident shall be liable to render emergency national service inside or outside of Zimbabwe in the interest of defence, public safety or public order, whether or not such a resident has undergone any period of National Service. Once again, the minimum age is 18 years even if the resident is volunteering for such a service (Section 18). Moreover, the Legal Age of Majority Act binds all Government agencies to recruit and employ people of the age of 18 or older.

The Defence Act does not stipulate the minimum or maximum age at which a person can join the army.

Child Recruitment

The Government claims that the Army's recruitment practice has been to admit only those persons above the age of 18 years. Current recruitment into the armed forces in Zimbabwe is entirely voluntary.2174 This is corroborated by non-governmental sources. Further, the Government states that the Zimbabwe National Army deployment in the DRC was made up of regular voluntary recruits above the age of 18.2175

2172 US State Department Human Rights Report 2000.

2173 Ibid.

2174 Letter to the Coalition from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Office in Geneva dated 20/2/01.

2175 Ibid.

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