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Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye: From military-assisted transition to transition-assisted military

By Luke Tamborinyoka

Early this week the decrepit regime announced the bizarre. They told us the rest of the civil service is to have 2,5 percent of their remuneration docked so that government can fund  what it called garrison shops to enable only our esteemed military to access affordable goods and services.

Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka
Luke-ing the Beast in the Eye with Luke Batsirai Tamborinyoka

Forget about the rest of the civil service, the rest of the country even. For a regime that came into office through a coup, it can only be the gun that matters. The net result is that our venerated soldiers are going to have special shops set aside for them so they can procure goods and services at affordable prices.

The cacophonous refrain we have heard from the regime’s sympathisers is that what we saw in November 2017 was not a coup.

Oh no!

They say it was a military-assisted transition, just as a rapist would say with a straight face he and his acolytes did not gang-rape their victim. That it was simply an act of cohort-assisted sex!

Perhaps one good turn should deserve another. Now the soldiers who assisted the transition are now turn being assisted by the transition. Indeed, the garrison shop concept is a solemn testament that our cursed nation has morphed and graduated from a military-assisted transition to a transition-assisted military!

Some have vehemently argued that the “transition” from Robert Mugabe to Emmerson Mnangagwa was a fluke; that there was no transition at all as we simply got rid of Mugabe but Mugabeism as a culture and ideology has firmly remained with us.

I beg to differ. What we saw in November 2017 was certainly a transition. Any movement from purgation to Hell is certainly a transition as would any jump from the frying pan into the raging fire!

Who said a shift from bad to worse is not a transition?

Never mind that Mugabe and Mnangagwa belong to the same WhatsApp chat group. The latter has actually proved to be the chat group admin!

I posit that the notion of garrison shops provides unadulterated proof that Mnangagwa is nothing without the condign power that birthed him. For him, it’s the military or nothing else, simply because his political conception in the sacred month of the goat in 2017 was a gunnified one.

The rest of the Zimbabwean populace does not matter to Mnangagwa. And so does the rest of the civil service who are being prejudiced of their meager earnings to fund this grand fraud. Mnangagwa has always arrogantly stuck up the middle finger to all of us. And perhaps it is now time to violently break that finger while savouring his contorted face with mirth and animation.

We the people and the rest of the civil service will form our own garrison and we will see who will win this contest of astute brinkmanship. The teachers, land officers, government clerks, nurses, doctors, the villagers, the farmers and the rest of the citizenry have created their own garrison of the dared and the chastised.

The stranglehold by the military on the country’s body politic has now been laid bare for all to see. The military diction around us says it all. Command agriculture, command wheat, command livestock and now garrison shops. Music has not been spared. Remember Jah Prayzah’s highly militarized lyrics. Protector Plus could even fall within this category of highly securitized lingo, Very soon we could be having artillery tea, infantry shaving cream,battalion biscuits and gunpowder make-up for the ladies!

To my dear brother George Charamba, do you now see why we said we needed the military on the dialogue table? They have shown they are the ultimate stockholders. As they said about Carl von Clausewitz’s Prussia: While most States have an army, in the case of Prussia, the army had a State!

In Zimbabwe too, contrary to the known notion of States having armies, the army has a State.

We have soldiers in every civilian sphere: in election management, in the media, in the judiciary, in parliament, in diplomacy, in the presidium and even in the divorce courts either as complainants or defendants!

By daring the whole nation and pampering only the army, we shall see who will blink first. I hope our patriotic soldiers will not take the bait by allowing themselves to be plucked from the rest of their suffering countrymen. If they do, we will not mourn them when the hour reckoning comes.

But I know for certain the majority of our men and women in uniform will not fall for this tokenism that doesn’t address all their concerns. After all, there are no garrison schools, garrison bars and there are certainly no garrison potatoes and garrison vegetables. Knowing our male soldiers and their inclination, most of them will be worried stiff that the regime has failed to provide them with garrison red light districts as well!

In fact, they would have preferred red light provinces even, as districts would fall far short of being ample hunting grounds!.

Our patriotic soldiers will certainly not fall for this ruse as it doesn’t even begin to address their dire concerns.

It is terrifyingly naïve for this illegitimate regime to be asking the majority of our despondent civil service, with inadequate salaries themselves, to subsidize these peddlars and merchants of gunpowder. It is very much like an irresponsible matron in a maternity ward asking a pregnant woman to play midwife to another pregnant lady in the next bed.

As they say, kangoma karirisi ndiko kaparuki. The darkest hour is before dawn and certainly something is about snap.

Soon and very soon it’s going to be the familiar twabam all over.

Well, I rest my case. Lest I reveal too much.

I hope the hapless scarf will survive the ordeal!

Luke Tamborinyoka is the Deputy National Spokesperson of the MDC. He is a multiple award winning journalist and an ardent political scientist who won the Book Prize for best student when he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe. You can interact with him on Facebook or on the twitter handle @luke_tambo.

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