Zwnews Chief Correspondent

As Zimbabwe celebrate the Heroes and Defence Forces Days, citizens have expressed mixed reactions over the once highly acclaimed holidays, following the shooting and killing of civilians by soldiers in Harare early this month.

Some people who spoke to in Harare, say they won’t be going to either National Sports Stadium or to the National Heroes Acre where celebrations to mark the heroes, and defence forces days are held.

A Mufakose resident, Garikai Dube, says the killing of civilians by the soldiers has dented the relevance of this year’s celebrations.

“When soldiers turn criminals and murderous, there is nothing to celebrate. Can you celebrate a person who kills your mother, father, son or daughter? The celebration were rendered useless, once those expected to safeguard the country turned murderous,”

However, some still believe that there is nothing wrong about celebrating the days, even after the same defence forces have killed unarmed civilians in cold blood.

“An act of mischief by a few soldiers cannot spoil the whole important holiday like Heroes Day,” says another resident only identified as Eunice.

Meanwhile, for some, this year’s Heroes and Defence Forces Days will go down the history amid the reported protracted tensions between Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and the army chief Valerio Sibanda, over the deployment of soldiers who killed 7 civilians in Harare last week.

Zimbabwe’s top soldier reportedly confronted President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his vice, Constantino Chiwenga demanding to know why armed soldiers from the Presidential Guard swooped on opposition protesters in central Harare early this month.

Sources said Sibanda, 61, “also demanded that the president should ensure that members of Zanu-PF(including Chiwenga) don’t involve themselves in military affairs and the police do their job without relying on the army’s support.”

Sibanda is allegedly saying Chiwenga has tarnished the image of the Zimbabwe National Army by using rogue soldiers from the Presidential Guard to violently supress street protests.

The citizens were protesting over how the just ended presidential elections were handled by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Political analyst, and lawyer Dewa Mavhinga is on record saying as the nation celebrates Heroes Day it should be borne in mind that the essence of the liberation struggle was premised on safeguarding of the country and its citizens.

“… the liberation struggle was all about justice, human rights, and equality, and not the military brutality in the streets. Soldiers who shot and brutalised people must be brought to book,” he says.

As we go to print, there have been some reports that a number of plain clothed soldiers have been deployed at celebration sites across the country.