Military violence in Harare a sign of bigger problems
By Jacob Mafume
Citizens in Harare yesterday witnessed another episode of lawlessness involving members of the uniformed forces.
Soldiers were indiscriminately beating up police officers and sometimes clashing with commuters in the Central Business District of the capital Harare.
Such behaviour is unacceptable and must be condemned with the contempt it deserves.
In a statement of the 31st of July, the People’s Democratic Party raised concern on the rise of violent crimes in the country. In the statement we made reference to a dossier which we wrote to the SADC Heads of State at the 34th Session in August of 2014 raising our concern regarding government failure to deal with the crisis.
In that dossier we argued as we do now that SADC “Failure to act now will result in the unpalatable suffering of our people and a temptation by others to resort to unlawful and unconstitutional means of redress.”
We expected SADC to at least initiate dialogue amongst citizens on a path to a solution on the crisis, forget the recent visit by President Mbeki to Zimbabwe.
As we predicted Zimbabweans have been suffering from both poverty and oppression part of it is through the presence of a police state.
Spike wielding policemen are now holding citizens at ransom, in many instances lives have been lost. In July 2016 police teargas killed a child in a suburb in Bulawayo following a peaceful demonstration.
In short the police have claimed the public enemy tag.
Reports in Harare are that the soldiers who were beating up police officers yesterday were on a revenge mission after spike wielding police officers blew tyres of an army truck.
The temptation is to celebrate the defeat of the police officers by the army with all its mighty. This is rather a sad development , a sign of how dangerous our society has become.
The rule of law has disappeared; lawlessness is when soldiers deploy themselves to fight a revenge mission. If they can do that in the streets of Harare with no fear of the camera-happy citizen blessed with the smart phone and the super highway which ensures easy posting on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp obviously there is nothing that stops the army from deploying itself to fight an unsanctioned war against one of our neighbours like Lesotho or Botswana.
The temptation is also that of concluding that soldiers running around are the worst that can happen as far as people taking the law into their own hands is concerned.
Let us imagine Doctors and Nurses getting angry at police officers or soldiers then administering lethal injections on every member of the uniformed force they attend to. Let us imagine prison officers locking up everyone they hate in their big trucks and throwing them into Chikurubi Maximum.
The point we make is that everyone must be guided by the law, citizens must at all times abide by the law, even those who hold powerful offices are not above the law therefore must not be allowed to be the jury whenever they are aggrieved.
The law provides remedies for those who are violated even for the soldiers who feel aggrieved for tyres blown by spike wielding policemen. In any case the owners of the army truck are the people of Zimbabwe who made the laws which the soldiers are now disobeying.
The army clearly acted contrary to the objectives set in section 206 of the Constitution “The national security objectives of Zimbabwe must reflect the resolve of Zimbabweans to live as equals in liberty, peace and harmony, free from fear, and in prosperity.”
The ZANU PF government for some weird reason has decided against establishing an independent complains mechanism against members of the uniformed forces as provided in section 210 of the constitution.
The biggest threat Zimbabwe faces is the absence of a civilian authority, the ones in government are either on retreat or fighting factional battles.
Noting this failure by ZANU PF to execute their constitutional duties we in the PDP wrote in both HOPE and ARREST of the need to establish a National Transitional Authority to buy Zimbabweans some peace.
Together Another Zimbabwe is Possible