As the nation of Zimbabwe commemorated Defence Forces Day on 14 August, it is quite saddening and troubling that the country’s military that is supposed to be the people’s protector, has, over the course of time, being turned into the people’s tormentor.
From the era of ousted long-time dictator Robert Mugabe to the current coup-installed junta of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the military has, unfortunately been used and abused in the perpetuation of this ZANU PF regime’s grip on power through brute force and atrocities against innocent people.
That is why, after 37 years of the people of Zimbabwe’s untold suffering, and failure to remove Mugabe through democratic means, the only others who were able to swifly and easily remove him were the military, in November last year’s coup.
Why would the people fail so dismally to remove Mugabe for 37 years, yet the military could achieve this in less that a week?
The answer is quite simply, and telling of the political situation in Zimbabwe: that these dictators owe their continued hold on power, not to democratic processes, but as a result of the abuse of military prowess on an innocent population.
Without the military’s support, these dictators are nothing, and the voice of the people could finally be heard.
Without the abuse of the military, real democracy can easily be established in the country – and this will lead to genuine sustained peace, unity and development.
The only entity in Zimbabwe that is standing in the way of progress, stability and prosperity is the military standing by those in power, as if those expressing dissenting voices are security threats and an enemy to the nation.
Zimbabweans love their country, and only have different views as to the most effective way to prosperity – yet, the military is indoctrinated to believe that those rejecting ZANU PF’s way are enemies worthy of being silenced – permanently.
The military should know that differences in opinions is not a cause for insecurity in the country, as we are all mature enough to respect each others’ varied views, and live together in peace and harmony.
Just a look at the past 8 months, whereby Zimbabweans went about their political business peacefully, shows that we are mature enough to do this, but the problem only re-emerged with the military’s shooting down of at least six unarmed protestors in Harare on 1 August.
As much as these protestors were violent, and destroyed some property, nonetheless, there was absolutely no justification for the military to use live bullets and kill those people.
From the live visuals on television that the world witnesed during those protests, the police had everything under control, as they managed to disperse these protestors through the use of tear-gas and water canons.
So what was the role of the military?
Just to dole out vindictiveness and brutality, so as to instill fear in the people – not to maintain peace, but to stifle any dissention, as the electoral commission was about to announce possibly fixed presidential results.
We are all suffering as Zimbabweans, including those in the military, and so we should stand together.
We are not each other’s enemies – no, not at all – but, fellow country men and women, who may have opposing views, yet all want what is best for the whole country.
As the military witnessed during last year’s coup, the people’s voice should be allowed to be heard peacefully, when they no longer want a leader.
The demonstrations against Mugabe, which the military supported, led to the easy and swift removal of a dictator, and ushered in a moment of peace and development
However, this peace and tranquility was just temporary, as the whole coup was never orchestrated by the people themselves, but the military, as a result of internal fighting withing ZANU PF.
Imagine if this had been a truly people-inspired uprising, with the support of the military!
This would have led to long-term peace, unity and development.
Our country would be guaranteed of perpetual and sustained progress and harmony.
The military should now refuse to be used and abused by those in power, whose only concern is for their own hold on power and corruption, whist the rest of us suffer.
We plead with those ordinary suffering members of the military to refuse the orders of these selfish leaders, as Mnangagwa and his vice and former defebece forces commander General Constatino Chiwenga.
Even the current defence forces commander General Phillip Sibanda seems like a relatively reasonable person, and should tell Chiwenga that he is no longer the commander, and should, therefore, keep out of the affairs of the military.
Sibanda should be open and fearless towards Chiwenga, and tell him that the military now stands with the people – for peace, democracy and development.
The military should tell Chiwenga that, since they had a taste of peace, development and harmony after the removal of Mugabe, but, although they would never carry out another coup, they will also never be abused again to keep a tyrant in power.
The defence forces are the people’s protector, not the people’s tormentor – and therefore, should stand with the people.<
The only hope for a prosperous Zimbabwe now lies with the military to resist any further abuse in the propping up of tyrants in oppressing the will of the people – no matter which party they vote for.
° Kudakwashe Sheddy Marangwanda is a UK based Zimbabwean activist.
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