Punish rogue military elements before it’s too late

Source: Punish rogue military elements before it’s too late – NewsDay Zimbabwe December 14, 2017

REPORTS of suspected members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) indiscriminately assaulting civilians have sent chills down the spines of the majority of Zimbabweans, who have been left wondering if this was part and parcel of the outcome of “Operation Restore Legacy” that ushered President Emmerson Mnangagwa into power.

In the majority of cases of abuse by the rogue military personnel, no official police reports have been made. However, there are isolated cases of individuals, who mustered courage to report the military abuse cases and some of the rogue elements were arrested.

The country is waiting with bated breath to see how such cases will be dealt with, as a number of videos and reports have been shared on various social media platforms. While these pieces of evidence cannot be classified as official news channels with credible information, the fact that people in army uniforms are seen assaulting civilians should be enough cause for worry.

We are hoping that justice will prevail in these isolated cases to send a strong message to like-minded people wearing army uniforms.

Granted, ZDF spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi has challenged the victims to provide evidence of their alleged abuse by soldiers to facilitate investigations. But this may not be as easy, as it appears at face value. It is understandable that those, who may have been assaulted did not make any police reports for fear of further victimisation as members of the army appear to be supervising police operations. So instead of Mugwisi or police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba warning the public, let them deal with impunity in both forces.

Against this backdrop, we believe it is prudent for the army to make an official announcement encouraging people to report any such incidents, and even order the soldiers to stop the abuse of the citizens. We believe the best possible way to stop the abuse by the individuals or groups wearing military fatigues is to withdraw their services and order them back to the barracks.

This includes the incident in which 42 passengers aboard a cross-border MB Transport bus reportedly escaped unscathed after a group of soldiers aboard a private vehicle driven by a Masvingo-based Zimbabwe Revenue Authority official allegedly opened fire at the Mutare-bound bus on Sunday.

Now that the army has indicated that all authentic cases should be reported, we urge those that have been victimised in these incidents, or those who have witnessed the alleged assaults, to make official reports so that the rogue elements within the military are brought to book before the situation gets out of hand.

It also must be noted that given the widespread abuse of social media, some elements may be using such platforms to unnecessarily cause mayhem by creating a negative attitude towards the military, which has been basking in public glory following the deposing of former President Robert Mugabe.

The citizenry should be cautious in posting any videos bent on tarnishing the military’s otherwise good reputation. We, however, call on the military to ensure order remains their rallying call and seek to punish any rogue elements in the force before the situation gets out of hand.