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Confine military to military affairs

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YESTERDAY, we carried a story with the headline Chiwenga evicts wife, to the effect that Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Constantine Chiwenga has issued instructions to Presidential Guard members to bar his estranged wife Jocelyn from entering the property.

NewsDay Editorial

The soldiers who were manning the main gate told NewsDay they were under strict orders not to allow anyone — including Jocelyn — into the farm.

There is nothing basically wrong with that because the farm is private property.

Further, it can be understood in the contest that the two are not on the best of terms and it would not be advisable for them to deal with each other directly until resolution or finalisation of the matter.

It should be conceded that we have not heard Chiwenga’s side of the story, him being an intensely private man. We have only heard one side of the story and that from an interested party, his estranged wife, who could well be grinding an axe after being ditched by her husband for another woman.

It is well documented that the divorce case has been a messy affair with some embarrassing private details coming into the public domain and being splashed in newspapers. This is often the result when love is replaced by bad blood.

However, it must also be pointed out that a person of Chiwenga’s stature as ZDF commander is entitled to security around his any of his premises — whether official residence or private property — because he has to be protected 24 hours seven days a week. That is the practice the world over and it is sensible and logical.

There is no debate or compromise on the security of high-profile State figures. They have to be protected.

Cost is not a factor because it’s primarily about their protection, which, in turn, translates into State protection.

The issue cannot be politicised. It has got nothing to do with partisan or party politics. So, as far as security goes it must be round the clock — whether at the farm or at a private function.

Be that as it may be, there is photographic evidence of two uniformed soldiers apparently barring Jocelyn from entering the farm. The photographic evidence is in two difference papers, so verification or corroboration is not a problem, is not in  doubt.

And Jocelyn herself frankly and honestly admitted that there could a legal injunction barring her from entering the farm that she is not aware of. This often happens in such civil legal wrangles where one side moves to outflank the other.

There is legal manouevring this way and that, advances and setbacks.

So, we are not accusing Chiwenga of anything. It not the duty of the media to be embroiled in or jump into people’s personal wars and take one side or the other. And it is not the duty of the media to be seen to be too quick to condemn everything official.

But Jocelyn did not make her case any better by “threatening to take the army general to the cleaners over the matter”, as reported in NewsDay.

If those soldiers were carrying out lawful duty under lawful instructions — as is most likely — there is everything right and proper with that. However, the actual eviction should have been carried out by civilian authorities in the form of the Messenger of Court and his personnel. It  should have not had the appearance of a military operation.

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