Zimbabwe military authorities have dismissed reports that its members took over Bulawayo on Tuesday and literally sanctified the vicious crackdown on civilian urbanites by security forces in the second biggest city as a move meant to give a helping hand to overwhelmed police details in enforcing current Level 2 lockdown regulations.
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) deputy public relations director Major Alex Zuva said in a statement yesterday that the actions of the military were not, in any way whatsoever, connected to concerns over the allegedly slashed June salaries and paltry earnings for general duty soldiers roughly pegged at around US$30 per month.
Instead, Major Zuva blames online media for spreading false information to suit their ‘regime change’ purposes.
“The army has noted with grave concern the levels and rate of misinformation that continues to be peddled mostly by online news agencies,” Major Zuva said in the statement.
“On Tuesday 16 June 2020, the Bulawayo24.com ran a series of stories to the effect that the army had taken over the city of Bulawayo. This is a blatant lie as the army was and is still assisting police to enforce lockdown regulations in order to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
This is despite the fact that police and soldiers, who manned roadblocks leading into the CBD on Tuesday were inexplicably allowing only nurses and uniformed forces to get into the city centre while members of the public garbed in civilian gear were being indiscriminately sent back home, whether or not they possessed appropriate documentation.
Reports were to the effect that the soldiers, who had just received their June salaries, were irked by Government’s move to slash their monthly eqrnings.
But, Major Zuva denied this, saying no salary cuts were effected for the month of June.
“Note that there were no salary cuts to the soldiers or civil servants. The back pay was communicated when it commenced and it has always been public knowledge that it was going to end in May 2020. The army knows that there has always been an agenda to link members of the defence forces with negative issues as part of the calculated regime change agenda”.
Major Zuva also said that the ZNA was mindful of individuals bent on whipping public emotions to create unnecessary animosity between the general populace and the Zimbabwe Government with its debatably conservative security forces.
He also said that there was need for media houses to seek official communication from authorities before publishing falsehoods.
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also defended the cops’ actions in Harare and Bulawayo, claiming that they were only strictly enforcing current lockdown regulations after concerns were raised by residents from those areas.
Both Ass Comm Nyathi and Major Zuva could not shed light on whether the running battles between armed security forces and civilians in Kwekwe on Wednesday had also been as a result of residents in the Midlands mining town calling for intervention of police and army to ensure abidence to lockdown regulations.
Armed police and military details on Wednesday descended on transacting citizens in Kwekwe CBD, with an old woman from Amaveni surbub narrating her ordeal to Zwnews.
“I had just gone to the bank to collect the remittances from my grandson who is based in South Africa through mukuru.com,” said the elderly woman, a 76-year-old, who declined to be named for fear of further victimisation.
“Eventually, the entire CBD was involved in running battles as police and soldiers indiscriminately attacked civilians who were around the city centre.Although I now struggle with walking, perhaps due to old age, I had to run for dear life and scurried for cover in a bushy area just outside the CBD, near Newtown surbub,” said the woman who sustained injuries while escaping the wrath of the army and the police.
Kwekwe is also home to Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa whose Sherwood residence is located on the north-western side of the town.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews