President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered members of the security forces, particularly the military not to wear camouflage in public, i.e. from home to work during deployments.

Members of the army have been reportedly commanded that everyone on duty should come from home in civilian clothes and only wear the camouflage at the barracks before any deployment. Previously uniformed forces when going to duty, could come from home in uniform, but this has been stopped.

A senior military personnel told this paper yesterday that of late, they have been ordered to come for duty in civilian clothes, only to access the camouflage at the military barracks. The soldier, who declined to be named said this has been necessitated by the rise in cases of armed robberies being carried out by criminals donning military uniforms.

“We have been with immediate effect ordered not to wear camouflage in public especially when coming from home going on duty. Anyone who would have been deployed should only access the uniform from the barracks, failure to observe this would result in one landing him/ herself in hot soup,” said the soldier who is station at Cranmborne military barracks.

He added that according to their commanders, the move has been necessitated by the increase in numbers of armed robberies being carried out by criminals wearing army uniforms. This publication could not get a comment from the army at the time of going to print.

However, political analyst Elder Mabhunu says, that could be another attempt by Mnangagwa to deceive the world that Zimbabwe is no longer a militarised state. “We have witnessed of late that military personnel has been deployed in Harare’s Central Business District, as Mnangagwa tried to scare the public from engaging in protests. However, the presence of military personnel in their uniforms has also exposed Mnangagwa’s military rule, hence the move to forbid soldiers from wearing camouflage in public,” he says.

Mabhunu maintains that Mnangagwa is now trying to fool the citizens that he is no longer deploying the army to frighten and disturb free flow of civilians, while in fact doing so with soldiers disguised in civilian clothing.

Mnangagwa has of late acquired new anti-riot gear for the police as he braces up for civil unrests. He has since let the new gear being paraded in public so as to scare and assure the masses that he is ready to violently crash any protests.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Settlement Chikwinya on Tuesday 18 June 2019, also raised the issue in parliament of the recent army deployments, asking why these deployments are being carried out by the President without informing the parliament as provided for in the Constitution.

“Section 214 of our Constitution which reads; ‘when the Defence Forces are deployed: -a) in Zimbabwe to assist with the maintenance of Public Order, the President must cause; Parliament to be informed promptly and giving appropriate detail of the reasons for deployment to that effect,” he said.

Him Chikwinya went on to querry why the Constitution is not being followed in that regard, adding that it had been noted of late, that members of the Defence  Forces where being deployed.

However, the Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda jumped in and cut him short.

“Order, order Hon. Member. With all due respect, can you raise that question tomorrow during question time? I notice that some of the issues should be raised under Question Time otherwise we derail our Order Paper. Accordingly, I am not entertaining any further points of privilege. You ask questions tomorrow,” he said.

Be that as it may, cases of robbers going around in police and military uniforms terrorising people in Harare have been reported. In some cases genuine members of the armed forces have been implicated in robberies. This has been attributed to the failing economy, as both members of the police forces and the military have neither been spared by the hardships.

In a typical matter, Criminal Investigations Department details have recently arrested bogus police officers who have been on a robbing spree in Harare.

The gang was using a Toyota Wish to rob innocent civilians and in some instances extorting money alleging that they were members of the police force. The fake officers were nabbed by CID Southerton and are assisting police with investigations.

Also recently, 8 members of the Zimbabwe National Army reportedly stormed Ceola Mine in Concession, Mashonaland Central province, last week and tried to disarm security guards before stealing gold ore valued at US$150 and fleeing in a military-issued vehicle.

The matter came to light at Concession District Hospital on Friday, where one of the soldiers was admitted after being mauled by guard dogs after failing to jump into their escape vehicle.

The State alleges that a military captain, together with his seven accomplices, stormed at Ceola Mine and identified themselves as being from the President’s Office.

The soldiers, who were armed with three loaded pistols, demanded storeroom keys, alleging that the mine firearms had no licences and, therefore, ordered the security guards to surrender their firearms.

The guards resisted and fought back, before unleashing vicious dogs on the soldiers. The military men fled and left the captain behind, who had been injured in the tussle. The accused stole a cellphone and some gold ore, before driving away in the military truck.

The soldiers dumped their getaway vehicle after it broke down only a few kilometres from the crime scene, and the police officers towed it to Mazowe Police Station, where it was being held as exhibit.