Army, police predicament recipe for disaster

editorial comment

IT is quite unfortunate that Zimbabwe’s army and police personnel find themselves in this very sorry state whereby they are reportedly practically starving while wearing faded uniforms and using antiquated guns and equipment.

What makes their situation astoundingly tragic is the fact that for decades the security services have been used, if not abused, to advance political agendas that have had very little to do with their very own welfare. Most recent cases in which they have been used to promote political agendas were the August 2018 and January 2019 incidents were they were directed to mow down defenceless citizens who were merely seeking to express their displeasure at the political and socio-economic situation in the country. These are the same guys who were quite instrumental in a ground-breaking coup that toppled the late former President Robert Mugabe. Over the past months they have been used to commit serious human rights abuses when they were directed to stop citizens from protesting the untenable socio-economic and political situation in the troubled country. It is unfortunate that their duty is to simply follow orders; and that they have been doing so diligently has not helped improve their lot is heart-breaking.

That the army and police forces had respectively requested for $24,8 billion and $29 billion, respectively for their sustenance and were instead each given a paltry $1,43 billion and $2,2 billion, speaks to what the system thinks of them. But taking the security services sector for granted has historically proved to be disastrous. Much as the Zanu PF regime reckons it owns these very critical arms of State, it has to really play its cards well. The regime has already been quite forthright in showing its true colours as far as the government workers’ welfare is concerned, denying them a decent wage. The regime has even gone as far as sacking more than 300 doctors who, ironically, are in exactly the same predicament as the army and police. For asking for a decent wage and tools to do their work, the doctors were instead sent packing. Now we have the army and police forces facing the same challenges as the doctors.

While government has been quick to give these two institutions their 2019 bonuses well ahead of all other civil servants, this will do very little to pacify the now obviously restless men and women in uniform. Because it is given that the bonuses will be long gone before Christmas, so what will be President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s next move to try and mollify these very agitated fellas? While Mnangagwa and his economic gunman, Mthuli Ncube, have asked for time to sort out the economic mess and categorically stated that they will reform in their own sweet time, time may, however, not be on their side.

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