Yesterday, we carried a story about troops from the Presidential Guard regiment accused of reportedly terrorising commuter omnibus crews plying the Harare-Norton route last week after they were denied a free ride.
Comment: NewsDay Editor
The incident is an unfortunate development given that the regiments play a very crucial role in the President’s security and their public conduct, in a way, would also reflect badly on President Robert Mugabe.
With the economic meltdown, endemic corruption and misgovernance affecting the lives of the majority of Zimbabweans, there is no doubt that what happened will most likely add salt to injury. This is the least Zimbabweans would want to happen to them.
Beside, that action was extreme provocation by the members of the military and must be condemned for what it is. Military personnel in Zimbabwe are traditionally known for their professionalism and discipline, but the conduct of a few bad apples is bound to corrupt the entire basket.
It is sad when such people abuse powers invested in them by the State for personal gain, which is what happened in this particular case.
This happens a lot and involves basically members from all the arms of the security sector, especially the police and soldiers who have this impression that they have a right to free transport in public vehicles.
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It makes no sense that military personnel should go about assaulting innocent people whom they know cannot fight back.
Such rogue elements in what is supposed to be a professional sector should be weeded out and dealt with to preserve the image of the security sector.
It is such unbecoming behaviour by a few unruly individuals that has created the impression that the military in Zimbabwe is anti-people and as long as the powers-that-be don’t act, the sentiment will continue to grow.
On the one hand, these officers demand free transport while their colleagues rip off the same kombi crews at the numerous police roadblocks that have become de facto tollgates where money is collected just for using the road rather than any traffic offence committed.
There have been incidents where commuter omnibus drivers opted to drive back to the rank in protest after a single person – a soldier or police officer – had refused to pay the 50 cents fare, inconveniencing a lot of people in the process.
It is about time that such rogue elements are reined in. The military must be warned that the people will eventually take revenge if they continue to abuse their authority.