By Maxwell Sibanda
Zimbabweans from across the board are so angry over reports that soldiers raped women during the recent nationwide disturbances.
The Daily News on Sunday spoke to a number of social and political analysts.
Analyst Gladys Hlatywayo
Such diabolic acts by the security forces are a clear indication that the current regime has dismally failed to run the affairs of the state. I am utterly disgusted as a citizen and as a woman. Those who are deploying soldiers in our streets and the soldiers who are raping women must be held to account.
The greatest challenge we face is that those mandated to protect citizens are now abusing citizens. We have a rogue regime that has neglected its duty to protect and perhaps it is time the international community play that role.
ZGC chief executive Virginia Muwanigwa
The Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) is alarmed by and condemns unreservedly allegations of rape of women by soldiers and law enforcement officers.
Last week we initiated investigations into the incidences following requests by women’s organisations and individuals, to be able to make informed recommendations as per our mandate.
In the meantime, we welcome the decision to investigate and prosecute whoever may be found guilty of all forms of violence and sexual abuse. We are also ready to receive complaints that are gender-related as part of our on-going investigations.
Gender activist Edinah Masanga
What we have seen in this violent crackdown is that the regime has progressed from the (Robert) Mugabe era methods of beatings and torture to murder and rape in broad daylight.
It is abhorrent and barbaric but I don’t even think it’s about barbarism; it is about this current government adopting methods that have long been used in other strife torn countries. This was a calculated, multifaceted and callous attack on the people.
Media practitioner Patience Zirima
It is barbaric that people in positions of power and authority abuse that power to perpetuate criminal acts again citizens and women in particular. The biggest fear I have is that if these law enforcers go unpunished because it perpetuates impunity.
When nothing is done to bring justice to these women, these acts will be repeated in the future. Justice also helps our society to deal with and come to terms with violations. More should be done ensure our security services don’t always turn against the people.
Media practitioner Vivienne Marara
Rape is a heinous crime and thorough investigations should be conducted so as to bring the perpetrators to book. There should be no sacred cows.
VMCZ officer Faith Ndlovu
It is imperative that thorough investigations are conducted and those who are found to be culpable be held accountable. It is highly unacceptable that women’s bodies should be turned into battlegrounds and that our mothers and sisters should be violated in this manner.
Safe and secure mechanisms must be put in place for reporting and protection of victims from further trauma or possible victimisation.
Zim Network for Economic and Social Transformation founder Takemore Mazuruse
We are a network that values total economic and social transformation through respect, engagement and inclusion of all groups regardless of race, creed, gender or political affiliation.
It is our call and hope that political players see to it that no one is injured or abused under the guise of restoring peace and sanity.
Alleged or confirmed, abuse of women should not be condoned and we speak strongly against such. We are a people together and must remain united in spite of our differences.
Social commentator Barbra Mhangami
I am appalled by the use of rape as a weapon on women in Zimbabwe. This regime has done this throughout its entire existence, from the war of liberation where Zanla forces gathered young girls in villages and used them for sex under the guise of “ the war effort “.
They left a trail of trauma and continued this around all the general elections since then. The members of this regime are a blood-thirsty, unscrupulous gang whose legacy is brutality and death. Removing Mugabe was simply removing the face of tyranny and now we are dealing with tyranny itself.
The Zimbabwean psyche continues to be traumatized by having rapists in the form of people who are charged with protecting the most vulnerable in society.
To think that these same soldiers celebrated with people only last November at Mugabe’s ouster, are the same uniformed beasts who rape women is truly mind boggling. The repercussions and the post traumatic disorders from what is happening now are unthinkable.
Social Commentator Ann Musemburi
It is very unfortunate that the security forces that we as civilians expect protection from are the ones who are abusing and brutalising civilians.
We have actually become afraid of our supposed protectors. We cannot report anything to the security forces because we know very well that once you report you actually become the criminal and worse if you are a woman.
Our security forces have become barbaric and it’s all because there is no rule of law anymore angova mazvake mazvake. I hope women’s groups will rise and do something about this issue. Today we are wearing black in protest solidarity with the rape victims.
Lawyer and former legislator Jessie Majome
These reports show persistent, disturbing traits about our society that we need to address vigorously – violence and disrespect of women as full human beings. Why would a man rape a woman because her husband is absent? Because he regards her as a sexual object owned by her husband.
So woe to women without male ‘owners’. Women’s right to security guaranteed by section 52 of the Constitution is in jeopardy. It’s especially so as our State institutions are reflecting the same barbaric traits but are worse because they are armed and more dangerous, disrespecting women taxpayers who fund and equip them.
It’s alarming for the institutions that should ensure our security to be the worst cause of our insecurity.
The Defence minister being a woman herself must now urgently purge her government’s failure to date to present a Bill establishing the Independent Complaints Mechanism of section 210 of the Constitution – the two measly cell phone numbers provided by the army for violations complaints will just not suffice.
She and her sister the Women’s minister must craft a comprehensive plan for ending SGBV – the still born 2012 National Strategy is a good starting point.
Her sister Information minister must desist from harassing the Human Rights Commission the only agency that is fearlessly and boldly doing it’s work- the Gender & National Peace & Reconciliation commissions must follow the ZHRC’s example.
I think that this has been the first significant challenge to the new dispensation and the push back was severe in order to send a message to the people to remind them who were in charge. I think that we as the people have a history of being traumatized by the government. This has just been the most visible example of it.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme
If these cases are true as they seem to be, they are despicable and smack of gross violation of human rights and gross abuse of state power. These allegations, if fact, qualify the implicated security agents as rogue and unprofessional.
Cases like this only help entrench the tag that Zimbabwe is a rogue nation where state agents violate human rights at will. Moreso that these violations are said to have happened when the state heedlessly switched off the internet.
Attempts by police, army and government to trivialise these or expecting the victims to come forth to report only go a long way to show how as a nation we disregard human rights and don’t know how to correct rights abuses. We are a nation in trouble.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga
It is lawlessness and terror meant to strike fear on the hearts of people through the commission of crimes against humanity that include rape. This calls for urgent UN intervention to dispatch a special envoy to investigate these horrendous and horrific abuses and consider how the International Criminal Court can be involved.
Crisis Regional Coordinator Blessing Vava
It’s barbarism at its level best and only shows we are dealing with a rogue military regime which has total disregard of human rights. It’s a shame in this day and era that we still have people within our midst using rape and torture as a weapon of terror.
Political analyst Mcdonald Lewanika
This instrumentalisation of rape as a weapon should not be acceptable in any society. It is dehumanizing and the victims live with the horror of the experience, unwarranted shame and stigma for the rest of their lives.
The perpetrators must be arrested and held accountable for their actions. They deserve the harshest sanctions under the law. Unfortunately even that will not even be halfway to finding justice for the affected women.
Social analyst Rejoice Ngwenya
Warlords in the DRC, Somalia and South Sudan who have been indicted for rape serve life-sentences at The Hague. Soldiers have been fingered in widespread sexual abuses and that puts them in the category of ‘humanimals’ – these are animals masquerading as humans fit for the death penalty.
However, in a constitutional democracy, they should be jailed for life. Zimbabweans – correction – men in uniform in Zimbabwe have sunk so low it is impossible to describe them.
Even Rhodesian African Rifles under Ian Smith never raped women, or else they would have been court martialled. It is only a coward who can force himself on a defenceless woman.
The Commissioner of Police, the Army Commander and his Commander-in-Chief, must be forced by Parliament to resign. Otherwise, a strong case is there for The Hague to incarcerate them. Humanimals belong to the cage.
Social analyst Rashweat Mukundu
When state security apparatuses are politicised and they become more of party militias this is exactly what you get. They see urban people as opponents of Zanu PF and not as citizens with rights, hence the use of rape as a political weapon. In essence these are security arms that have gone rogue.
They do this knowing that they are protected by those in power whom they are serving through these heinous deeds. The same people who raped women now say the victims must report to them, nothing can be as bizarre and hypocritical as such a statement.
Essentially the safety and security of people is highly compromised because the institutions that are meant to protect them are being abused for political ends. DailyNews