When the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) took the reigns of power from former President Robert Mugabe, they quickly placed Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a civilian face.
They did that so as to hide the coup element, and in turn the local and international community which had been fed up with the dictator, did not refer to the transition as a coup at the time. The army general Constantino Chiwenga quickly removed his camouflage and his military boots, for a suit and tie, becoming a civilian who he never was.
After failing to get legitimacy through the ballot box, the junta had no option, but to show the world their true colours, and the real cloth they are made of, the 1 August killings. Where unarmed civilians who were protesting were shot and killed by the country’s national army.
It is now as clear as crystal and official, Zimbabwe is now a fully fledged military state.
Just few days ago, President Mnangagwa left Zimbabwe for Russia and 2-days later mayhem broke out on the streets in the cities and towns of Zimbabwe. Acting President Constantino Chiwenga reacted by attending the meeting of Security Heads on Monday morning and demanding the imposition of a State of Emergency with Martial Law.
What his intentions were are not clear as the situation hardly justified such extreme measures. The Security Chiefs refused to comply but the Army moved immediately to restore order and control. The closure of the internet completed the task and Zimbabwe literally ground to a halt for 3-days.
Hundreds were arrested and there have been reports of widespread looting, burning vehicles and buildings and human rights abuse and even torture. Almost as if the Administration automatically reverted to the practices that had prevailed during the worst periods of the Mugabe regime.
Weeks after the violent protests Zimbabwe is still under General Chiwenga’s Martial Law.
Zimbabwe’s capital can paint the picture, it is now military personnel everywhere. There are more soldiers in the streets than there are civilians, sending many to wonder if the country’s is at war, or gearing up for one.
Despite the country not in a war, either civil or otherwise, the minister of Home Affairs Cain Mathema recently opened up that the country’s security forces will remain on high alert, and state security agents will remain on the ground. “The security forces have always remained on high alert, and firmly on the ground,” he said.
For a visitor, the overall and general fact that Zimbabweans are peace loving people, is being overshadowed by the unnecessary presence of military personnel in the streets. It has come to the open that the 2017, change of guard was indeed a military coup.
Since when has the military managed bus queues? People are wondering. To make matters worse, the same army constitutionally mandated to maintain peace and security of the citizens have become murderers and rapists.
While at the same time, current events that have seen vendors being forced out from the streets, have also been brutal with the police and military deployed. It has also been alleged that the seemingly municipal police conducting the raids on vendors with the help of military and state police are in fact soldiers in municipal police uniform.
A senior police officer (criminal investigation department) stationed at the Robert Mugabe International Airport, told this newspaper that it was true that state security forces are being given municipal police uniforms to disguise as council police, and he says this has been going for some time now. That was also at one time confirmed by former ruling party youth leader.
While giving evidence to the commission of inquiry into the 1 August killings, former ZANU PF youth leader for Harare Jim Kunaka, confessed that the ruling party was in a habit of using uniforms to disguise certain moves. He gave example of how the ruling party’s Chipangano terror group used to be given military apparels and unleash violence.
Meanwhile, Harare Mayor councillor Hebert Gomba recently told reporters at a press briefing on Wednesday that the local authority does not subscribe to the violent removal of vendors from the streets. He added that when his council took office, the city fathers promised to engage vendors in dialogue, as opposed to arbitrary evictions.
City of Harare affairs are being run by the main opposition MDC-Alliance whose councillors are the majority. Previously the local government authorities had been at loggerheads with the central government, whose predominantly cabinet was ZANU PF wanted to smuggle party politics in council chambers.
Peter Nyoni writes on ZwNews in his own capacity, he frequently travels between South Africa and Harare.
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