HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsPoverty is the real security threat

Poverty is the real security threat

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The past few weeks, we have been witnessing war of words between two individuals who were accusing each of being security threats.

What is most striking about the recriminations is that they were all coming from people who are not only in the government, but occupy strategic national positions.

In their exchange of words, one believes the Prime Minister is a security threat for allegedly being in bed with imperialists, while the Prime Minister thinks the Brigadier-General is a threat by siding with one political party and meddling in politics.

The rhetoric that the Prime Minister is an imperialist bedfellow is as old a platitude as the sun rising from the east, while the allegiance of some members of the military backs dates to the days of Dare ReChimurenga (the War Council).
Both the Prime Minister and the Brigadier-General look well-fed, with one of them earning a nickname based on his chubby cheeks.

Out of interest, I undertook minor research just to understand what these two senior government officials see in each other which constitutes national security .

I came across a not-so-convincing explanation which states that a security threat is made up of actions or events that threaten the integrity, sovereignty and security of a country.
Unsatisfied I looked up the meaning of national security.

The first one says, a country is secure when it does not have to resort to war, or the threat of war and the second one states that national security means freedom from foreign dictation. Draw your own conclusion.

The Prime Minister and Brigadier-General were both involved in a revolution. One fought for the freedom of the country from colonial rule, while the other is still fighting for democracy.

Their differences lie in philosophies of their struggle. But their physical outlooks tell the same story, the story of well-fed people. And that story doesn’t resonate with people in Rimuka, Rushinga, Binga, Glen View or Dzivaresekwa.

Theirs is a story of hunger, destitution and everyday struggle in the face of shrinking livelihood opportunities. It is a story that imbues desperation, anger and emptiness.

That, to me, is a serious security threat much bigger than the Prime Minister and Brigadier-General combined. In a country where the majority have nothing worth living for except their names and life, frustration and anger take the place of their hopes and wishes withered away by poverty.

Hungry people don’t find reasons to respect the laws or institutions of the State. And no amount of fear can quell the flames of their anger and frustrations.

The more these frustrations are suppressed, the more volatile they become. Not even the fear of appalling prison conditions will deter them. Nothing in this world inspires people to put their lives than a revolution by the poor. There is nothing as painful as not knowing where your next meal will come from.

We have recently witnessed the flames of poverty in Tunisia and Egypt. And indeed poverty triggers anarchy and that is a security threat which our government must be worried about.

An Egyptian blogger once wrote that: “I’m in Cairo. If you read the news, you know that today is a ‘Revolution for the Poor’ day.

Thousands of people have descended on the downtown area to demonstrate. Over the past week, in solidarity with Tunisia and to protest against rising food prices, some people have been setting themselves on fire.

“The government’s response? To issue a ban on sales of gasoline to anyone not driving a car so that people do not kill themselves. And the government reminded demonstrating people that suicide goes against the Qu’ran.”

The former US Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, warned that the deepening world financial crisis and resultant poverty posed a paramount threat to US national security rather than al-Qaeda.

Poverty is a great threat to peace worldwide and it should be the number one national security concern. The moment our government, military included, recognise poverty as a threat to peace and security, we can easily manage to tackle the challenges that hinder us to achieve development and economic growth.

During campaigns political parties should sell their political manifestos based on how they intend to develop the country, but instead they turn to brainwashing their people as a way of diverting our attention from real issues.

There is no better way to keep Zimbabwe safe and peaceful than eradicating poverty and inequality, and we can only effectively do that if we are ready to declare that poverty is a serious national security threat which needs to be defeated than resort to recriminations.

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