The Zimbabwe Defence Forces needs to move in quickly and rein in “rogue elements” reportedly causing unrest across the country since last week.
Evidence abound of several people who have been brutalised by military elements operating under cover of darkness to mete out retributive attacks on perceived and known opposition activists in various parts of the country following Zanu PF’s narrow victory in the just-ended harmonised elections.
Quick intervention by the military bosses would go a long way in protecting the institution’s public image.
Since the November 2017 military intervention that saw former President Robert Mugabe being forced to step down after 37 years in power, the army had gained some modicum of respect and trust among members of the public after soldiers quickly retreated to the barracks soon after the operation.
However, recent events which include the fatal shooting of seven opposition protestors and innocent passersby in Harare last week and the subsequent night raids on MDC Alliance activists paint a different picture of the military which a few months ago had become the darling of the citizenry.
We believe it’s not enough for military bosses to merely describe their men who are reportedly terrorising citizens while in military fatigue as “rogue elements”.
More should be done to put this madness to a stop, otherwise these unprovoked attacks on civilians could trigger civil unrest should the victims decide to fight back.
Given that these incidents are coming soon after several people were shot dead and many others wounded when members of the army opened fire on demonstrators, there is need for the army to launch a manhunt for those so-called rogue elements and bring them to book.
If this is not done as matter of urgency, members of the public will be forced to once again perceive the military as enemies of the people rather than guarantors of national security.
While it is worrisome that the soldiers are targeting MDC Alliance officials, it is more disturbing that even ordinary people going about their business in their neighbourhoods were being targeted for abuse. Such conduct — whether the abusers are real soldiers or rogue individuals acting on their own — the fact that they are carrying out their campaigns in military fatigue means the army authorities have to intervene and defend the citizens.
Just like several innocent people were shot dead during the senseless attacks last week, many more innocent people — especially those knocking off late from work or having fun in bars and nightclubs — are currently being subjected to inhuman treatment by the soldiers.
Such intimidation and abusive treatment does not in any way augur well with the gospel of a “new dispensation” and a “new Zimbabwe” that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been preaching since sweeping to power in a coup in November last year. It creates the impression that the President-elect is either engaging in double-speak or has no control of the State security sector.