Editorial Comment: Security forces’ lack of respect for the people unbelievable

Editorial Comment

IT’S difficult to take this government seriously. Or at least some elements of it. According to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, civilians bent on committing a wave of crimes overran police stations and broke into armouries and stole guns and uniforms.

The guns and uniforms were then used to kill innocent citizens, including a police officer, and to commit arbitrary attacks and the rape of at least 16 women during last month’s protests over the high prices of fuel, goes the narrative.

Last month, we were told by both the police and the army that deserters and criminals in stolen military uniforms were behind the brutal assaults and killings. Other criminal elements bought replica military clothing in order to engage in illegal activities, security forces said.

But in all this, someone forgot to tell Defence deputy minister Victor Matemadanda, who told Senate in yesterday’s sitting that: “I do not have information of an armoury having been broken into.”

The level of disrespect of Zimbabweans by this government is alarming. It’s not just the fact that it changes its story every time, but that it does not care.

Nyikayaramba, like President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, justifies the killing of 17 people — according to human rights groups — and widespread human rights abuses, rape, assaults and extortion were justified by saying that “the State security agents’ response was commensurate to the level of violence and damage caused by the protesters”.

It’s clear that Zimbabwe is struggling to shake off its divided past, a legacy of Zanu PF, which pushed the “us against them” mentality the moment a credible opposition appeared at the start of this millennium and started holding a mirror to a party that did not like what the mirror reflected back.

So just as Nyikayaramba’s surname says it all, Zimbabwe has refused to buy this cheap narrative.

This country needs a break from this state of blue funk.

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