It is very regrettable that Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo has dismissed reports that members of the Zimbabwe National Army, intelligence and the police, have gone on a rampage assaulting citizens and clamping down on opposition political activists.
The battering of citizens followed skirmishes that occurred in Harare and other parts of the country last week, where protesters took to the streets to force the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release results of the presidential vote.
It is unfortunate that Moyo, a retired army general, claims government investigations had proved that reports of abductions, assault, and intimidation on opposition supporters by the military were false.
We do not believe that Moyo meant what he told foreign diplomats, unless otherwise. It is our firm belief that the highly regarded diplomats will not be gullible and swayed by Moyo’s cheap political stunt.
It is on record that a lot has happened since Wednesday when suspected opposition supporters demonstrated against Zec’s alleged electoral malpractices. The military responded by opening fire, killing at least seven unarmed civilians.
Reports of sporadic raids by State security apparatuses have been reported in the capital and some parts of the country. Senior MDC Alliance officials, among them Morgen Komichi, Happymore Chidziva and Tendai Biti, have also been visited, with their relatives targeted for harassment and alleged abductions.
Yet Moyo deliberately chose to mislead diplomats that government investigations had drawn blanks, if ever there was any investigation in the first place. He conveniently chose to forget to brief them about the status of the soldier who was captured on camera opening fire on innocent civilians coming from work. Can Moyo please help to identify this rogue soldier? We have no doubt that serious individuals will take Moyo seriously once he comes out in the open and tells the world what has happened to the soldiers who used live ammunition on civilians.
If government has the temerity to brush off such atrocious behaviour by soldiers that happened in public view, it would be naïve for the diplomats to believe the same government can admit to something that happened under the cover of darkness.
Curiously, Moyo chose to describe the soldiers who used brute force on civilians as professional, well-trained and well-disciplined. This shows the extent to which this government can go in trying to sweep things under the carpet while the majority of Zimbabweans live in fear under what President Emmerson Mnangagwa is fooling the world to be a new dispensation that guarantees the rights of citizens.
Scores of people have opened up on how they have been assaulted, including our journalists, with one of them detained for hours on Friday for taking pictures and videos of soldiers brutalising people in Kuwadzana.
Gory pictures and videos of residents brutalised by the military are there for everyone to see. The victims are at their homes and hospitals, but to our knowledge, none of them has been interviewed by the government to disprove the claims.
If Mnangagwa’s government is serious about starting on a clean slate, we challenge him to be transparent, truthful and respect the rights of its citizens.
Being honest is a virtue; it can generate trust on the part of government rather than sowing seeds of deception. The culture of impunity must come to end.
A government which sits and folds its hand while citizens are being brutalised every day will be judged harshly sooner rather than later.