Country report and updates: Zimbabwe
conscription not enforced
At present the conscription situation is not quite clear. It is believed that although legislation provides for conscription, it is not enforced.
The 1980 constitution does not mention conscription and leaves it up to Parliament to fix the conditions of service in the armed forces.
According to a government statement in 1997 Zimbabwe has no compulsory military service. The statement suggests that the 1979 National Service Act provides for the introduction of conscription, if considered necessary. 
Two sources indicate that compulsory national service, involving a six-month military training, was introduced in 1989. Registration for the newly introduced compulsory service started in November 1989.  
In case conscription is introduced, the 1979 National Service Act prescribes the terms of national service.
All men aged between 18 and 30 are liable for a year's national service. National service consists of an initial six months' military training, followed by another six months of non-military training. After service, conscripts remain on duty for an unspecified period.  
It is not known whether registration for national service takes place. It seems at present no-one is called up to perform national service.
About the actual recruitment into the armed forces no information is available.
2 Conscientious objection
Conscientious objection is legally recognised. In 1997 the government stated that, if compulsory military service should be introduced, the 1979 National Service Act and other relevant measures for COs will be implemented. Section 24 of the Act provides for exemption from military service on the grounds that a person is a conscientious objector to military service. A person is entitled to apply at the Exception Board for exemption from military service if "his bona fide religious beliefs inhibit his rendering National Service". 
It is not known whether this provision for conscientious objection applies to professional serving members of the armed forces.
3 Draft evasion and desertion
No information available.
Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, was a British colony which declared its independence in 1965. It is believed that in these years, when Rhodesia was governed by Ian Smith's apartheid regime, military service was compulsory for white citizens under the 1955 Defence Act. This act, like the former 1926 Defence Act, contained a provision for conscientious objection. 
It seems that after 1980, when Rhodesia changed into Zimbabwe under a black government, the provision for conscientious objection has been retained.
During the transition to an independent Zimbabwe, thousands of Rhodesian soldiers, professional killers and elite troops went to South Africa and were absorbed in the South African Defence Force (SADF), in what has been called the largest mercenary recruitment exercise in history. They were ready to fight the newly elected government, and although the SADF was ready to launch a massive invasion, this never happened. 
6 Annual statistics
In June 1993 it was reported that the 50,000-strong Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) would be reduced by 10,000 over the coming five years. 
The armed forces comprise 39,000 troops - 0.34 percent of the population. 
Every year about 120,000 men reach conscription age (18). 
 Prasad, D., T. Smythe 1968. Conscription: a world survey, compulsory military service and resistance to it. War Resisters' International, London.  Peace News Bulletin, no. 11, 1990.  Legum, Colin, and Marion E. Doro 1992. Africa Contemporary Record. Annual Survey and Documents 1988-89. Africana Publishing Company, New York, page B780.  'Zimbabwe: ZNA Demobilization', in: West Africa, London, 31 May 1993, page 923.  Cawthra, G. et al. (ed.) 1994. War and resistance: Southern African reports, the struggle for Southern africa as documented by Resister magazine. Macmillan, London/Basingstoke, UK  UN Commission on Human Rights 1997. The question of conscientious objection to military service, report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to Commission resolution 1995/83. United Nations, Geneva.  Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London, UK.