The military has no political role to play in Zimbabwe

Tanonoka Joseph Whande
June 7th, 2012.

Yet another military man has come out and made political statements that compromise the neutrality of our armed forces.

One by one, these top military men take turns to rubbish their profession by declaring allegiance to individuals and political parties at the expense of the nation.

These continuing utterances by military stooges masquerading as colonels and Major Generals are not welcome at all and the tide has to be stemmed.

Mugabe must tell his stooges in the army to cool it. We do not want military men dabbling in politics. Not at all.

I do not buy into Defence Minister Mnangagwa’s utterances in Parliament to the effect that Major General Chedondo’s utterances were not policy.

ZANU-PF, especially Mnangagwa, thrives on ignorance, intimidation and violence.

Trust Mugoba, a Major General, told mourners at the funeral of Lieutenant-Colonel Thabani Khumalo, that military ideology is best represented in ZANU PF’s mission.

Please what kind of rubbish is this? Are these professional soldiers or are they Chipangano thugs?

What military ideology is he talking about? Is the army not there to serve the people’s will, as per the constitution?

The military cannot have an ideology that is askew from the constitution; the military’s role is defined in the constitution but ZANU-PF, a siya-so party, does not understand this, nor does it care.

The means by which Rhodesia turned into Zimbabwe or, rather, the way Zimbabwe achieved its independence is beginning to work against the nation.

And yet we have been aware of it from the very beginning.

Although there were elections that ZANU-PF won, those elections were unavoidable, considering the worsening military siege of the nation at the time.

If the colonialists had not agreed to negotiate, they stood to lose everything because what we thought were freedom fighters were gaining the upper hand on the battlefield.

We had spent years taking care of the fighters; we had been indoctrinated and we had been taught military ways of behaving.

We put not only our hearts and souls into it but ourselves, our sons and daughters.

Old men, women and children were part of the struggle; without that contribution, Zimbabwe would not be free today.

Even after independence, I recall the divisive categorising of people as those perceived to be on the lower rungs of life were called the povo, on one hand, while the ruling aristocrats and the well-to-do were referred to as the shefs, on the other.

I recall the standing at attention when a shef happened by. Today, whenever there is some disagreement, I cringe at the toyi-toying and guerrilla-style singing by ZANU-PF supporters, just like the armed freedom fighters did.

That act is a prelude to trouble.

ZANU-PF’s best known symbol is the clenched fist, which they once used to punch the air to motivate the fighters but which now fatally punches innocent men, women and children.

While ZANU-PF may be commended for executing a cunning liberation war, it is unfortunate to see now that these people fought for themselves, not for the people.

These people might have been good at liberating the country, but they are nowhere near being able to rule the country.

On Mugabe’s part, I do not know what to make of him because he was a figurehead, not a military strategist. Politically, he survived on the strict advice of those around him at the top, the same people who had somehow squeezed him through the leadership cracks.

There was no brilliance involved, only ceasing an opportunity provided by others.

There is no evidence anywhere that Mugabe was as brilliant in war, academics or government as we are led to believe because mastering sufficient knowledge of any of these three disciplines could have shown him the right way.

The man is lost and he led the country to the edge of destruction.

Now the nation is in trouble because of its own liberators. Now the people are being beaten up and abused by their so-called liberators.

Now the army is not fighting enemies or colonialists, it is being used to subjugate the people.

ZANU-PF now does what it wants with the nation and the people. We, the people, together with the MDC and a Prime Minister, no longer have any say over the destiny of our nation or families; we are now being told and forced to do and be what we do not prefer to be.

All institutions are being militarised to make it clear that ZANU-PF is prepared to go “to go to war” against the people.

What is distressing is that unlike in countries like Somalis, Iraq, DR Congo and others where the governments are facing armed resistance or insurgents, ZANU-PF and its cowardly leader are unleashing military might on unarmed people.

Who really is ZANU-PF fighting in Zimbabwe?

Our country is not at war in the fullest sense but what do we call a government that is killing its own people so as to impose its unpopular will on the citizens?

War is not necessarily physical assaults with guns the enemy; war can be the mental, psychological and physical abuse of people who continue to resist the abuse.

The heart of the matter is that the military must not be involved in politics or policy making. Through elections, we choose civilians to do all that on behalf of the nation.

The military’s involvement in politics short-circuits the people’s aspirations and nullifies the vote of the individual.

The role of the military is to protect the nation and the people from outside forces. The military, just like the police, are not there to serve the interests of a political party or individual against those of any other political party or individual.

The military must not be involved in policy-making; that is the role of the people and the government they elect.

Yes, the soldiers might be called in to assist during a civilian crises but their role is to assist those who deal with civilians then go back to the barracks, thank you.

We cannot have a situation where our own liberators are our masters. We cannot accept a situation where those we assisted to liberate our country hijack the nation and impose their own will on the nation.

And that is why ZANU-PF is facing the kind of resistance it is facing today.

We did not assist in our own liberation so that we can be oppressed by our own.

The problem is that Robert Mugabe himself and all those top people in the military have cases to answer.

It all boils down to the genocide and the money they have stolen.

It all comes down to the abuse of people.

They must pay for it; all of them and there is no way out. The only way out for them, they think is for them to continue doing what they are doing. But it will not work.

Murder has no statute of limitations and all the people who killed our citizens are going to pay for it.

I listen to former strong-man and Mugabe loyalist, Enos Nkala, trying to run away from complicity in the genocide. It will not work.

Nkala should have simply stood up and apologised to us; that could have made a difference, not all the drivel he is spouting.

Zimbabweans will not die, perish or disappear in vain.

The role of the military is not civilian. I am hoping SADC is taking notes. I am hoping that Jacob Zuma is taking notes.

I am honestly hoping that the United Nations and the international community are taking notes because we don’t want any excuses tomorrow.

Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party are holding the people of Zimbabwe as hostages.

Do not come with relief operations; stop these mad men of ZANU-PF before they cause yet genocide.

I am Tanonoka Joseph Whande and that, my compatriots, is the way it is today, Thursday, June 7th, 2012.

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