HomeOpinionStay out of politics, generals!

Stay out of politics, generals!

How many times do we have to remind each other of some of these self-evident facts and realities?

Report by Dingilizwe Ntuli

But given Zimbabwe’s senior officials and military commanders’ brazen contempt for the country’s constitution, laws, and indeed the rule of law, it has to be done even ad infinitum.

 

The traditional role of the armed forces the world over is primarily to defend their country’s territorial integrity from foreign aggressors.

On certain but rare occasions, the military can also serve as backup for the police in maintaining internal security as well as protecting citizens and their property.

It is critical the military leaves the remit of democracy to an elected government and also respects the rules of the democratic game, and its own role in it.

Not so in Zimbabwe.

Our defence forces have long abdicated that role by openly dabbling in party politics in support of Zanu PF and this has severely damaged the prestige of the security institutions and that of our men and women in uniform.

Although our military has slowly been losing its bearings since Independence in 1980, the past decade will go down in Zimbabwe’s history as the period the armed forces openly transferred their allegiance from the country’s flag to their commander-in-chief President Robert Mugabe and his party, while undermining national interest.

Senior military commanders have shown brazen disrespect for servicemen and women and their families by ignoring the importance of political neutrality in their quest to defend Mugabe and their personal interests.

The military has been used to campaign for Zanu PF, intimidate, harass and even beat up opposition party supporters in furtherance of a vile dictatorship.

Our senior military commanders have been tempted by the endless possibilities of lining their pockets through patronage provided by Zanu PF to continue supporting the party. Some of them are now filthy rich but can’t honestly account for their ill-gotten wealth.

Although the rank and file may have largely remained disciplined, their commanders’ loyalty has become deeply-entrenched in Zanu PF to the extent of making constant unlawful statements bordering on treason, threatening to reverse election outcomes that do not retain Mugabe and Zanu PF in power.

We know that senior commanders fear possible prosecution for human rights violations and also want to protect their riches acquired mainly through Zanu PF patronage, but they have now gone too far.

Major-Generals Douglas Nyikayaramba, Martin Chedondo and Trust Mugoba have publicly vowed to defend Mugabe and Zanu PF and the military hierarchy has remained silent when the constitution, Defence Act and other laws are being violated with impunity.

Those who don’t want to abide by their professional codes of conduct must simply resign and became politicians if they so wish.

They must not abuse tour security institutions and public resources to always intimidate and threaten citizens. It’s wrong and it must be condemned by all serious, right-thinking and responsible citizens.

Which brings me to the reckless remarks attributed to two senior Zanu PF officials, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo who warned of a bloodbath should Mugabe lose elections.

What on earth do Chinamasa and Gumbo think they are doing? How irresponsible can leaders get? Besides, why waste money and time holding elections in the first place if Mugabe is not allowed to lose?

Why not just declare Mugabe president for life and allow citizens to react accordingly?

While Chinamasa and Gumbo have exposed themselves, the main point remains that armed forces and intelligence services must stay out of politics and elections. We are tired of their illegal interferences and pathetic justifications.

They have no role whatsoever to play in partisan politics. If they doubt this they must go back and read the constitution, Defence Act and relevant rules and regulations. No more excuses please!

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