BRIGHT Matongaâ€™s outburst in a BBC interview on Wednesday â€” responding to an announcement by MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti that Morgan Tsvangirai had won the presidential election â€” epitomises the extent to which the Zanu PF government has become reliant on the military for its survival.
Biti in his usual brusque manner announced at a press conference that their figures, backed by independent monitors, showed that Tsvangirai had won the election and would be the next president.
Matonga who retained his Mhondoro constituency seat feebly tried to invite the army to support his own corrosive view of the military in a modern democracy. Matonga still believes that as former Deputy Minister of Information he can speak on behalf of government and the whole country. He is now a backbencher.
Matonga notwithstanding all the â€œbrightâ€ ideas which won him the vote declared that Bitiâ€™s statement was a provocation to the military and the police. He ominously opined: â€œThey (MDC) have got to be very careful. They think they can provoke Zanu PF, and the police and the army.â€
Matongaâ€™s statement aptly captures one of the major problems which has bedevilled this nation and which an MDC government should never allow to happen again. This country has been ruled by civilians who employ military stratagems to get their own ends â€” Gukurahundi, Operation Murambatsvina, Operation Sunrise, and recent electoral announcements.
The government of President Mugabe invited military personnel to get involved in farming, at the Grain Marketing Board, at the National Railways of Zimbabwe, in fuel procurement, trade, sport and even at the Post Office. This the government defended as the panacea to economic recovery!
â€œThere is nothing sinister about involving security force personnel in areas like the economy and food security: the government is doing what is best for Zimbabwe. Any complaints to the contrary are only meant to rubbish a genuine economic revival and food security programme,â€ Obert Mpofu, Minister of Industry and International Trade, said in an interview with Irin in 2006.
But the securitisation of civilian institutions was not all about national development. The military failed to protect the nation from its number one enemy: inflation. It failed to safeguard the value of the local currency. It could not stem the tide of price hikes. Its involvement in civilian offices was therefore a domestication of the servicemen by a party which believed that it had a lifetime to rule this country and therefore required the military to safeguard this foul political ordination.
Matonga even in the face of the embarrassing defeat of his party and colleagues still sees the army as an institution whose principal role is to defend the narrow interests of the ruling aristocracy and not the whole nation. The military therefore is regarded as an instrument of thwarting any attempt to oppose the establishment.
But any self-respecting army should never allow itself to be turned into a private security company providing round-the-clock protection to a political party, especially one with a record-breaking testimony of failure.
Zanu PF has in little more than two decades reduced our once professional army to an extension of the party and not a protector of the common good in the country. Statements by service chiefs on the eve of the elections that they would not salute a president drawn from the opposition however failed to cow the voters into maintaining Mugabe and his legion of flunkies as national leaders.
I see Matongaâ€™s statement on Wednesday as an invitation to the men in uniform to protect Zanu PF losers rather than defend the nation.
Zanu PF information handlers were this week describing opposition supporters celebrating victory before the official announcement of the results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as an attempted coup.
Here is a calculated attempt to bring in the army to subvert the will of the people. The people of Zimbabwe VOTED to remove this corrupt and hopelessly incompetent Zanu PF government. That is not a coup. It is called democracy but not many politicians are bright enough to realise this.
There is no scope for any democratic administration to owe its existence to a pliant military command. The military is not a political party and should therefore stay out of politics especially during the election period. This is a major task the successor government to our current rulers has to grapple with.
The countryâ€™s political landscape is littered with too many citadels of patronage which have nothing to do with national development but political entrenchment. The army should therefore not be employed to protect these outposts of depravity nor should it become a centre of patronage itself.
We are looking forward to more Bright ideas from the backbencher from Mhondoro.