Military have no role in civilian matters

The military on Monday waded into the corruption debate, arguably the most topical issue in Zimbabwe at the moment.

Source: Military have no role in civilian matters – NewsDay Zimbabwe October 26, 2016

Comment: NewsDay Editor

Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba spoke about how paying lip service to corruption was a security risk and graft had to be dealt with.

Maybe because the spectre of State security was raised, the army felt obliged to comment on a matter that is ordinarily a civilian issue.

From a layperson’s point of view, if there is an internal security risk, then the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation should be at the forefront of dealing with it rather than the army.

The army may have thought they are addressing a topical question, but they may have succeeded in muddying the waters.

One of the defences offered by Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo, for example, is that the corruption allegations against him long took a factional dimension and the army’s involvement could have just given him a “get out of jail card”.

Most Zimbabweans will recall how President Robert Mugabe rebuked the securocrats for their involvement in Zanu PF factional wars and their speaking out about a civilian issue can speculatively be seen through factionalism lenses.

It does not help that the army itself has a questionable record on corruption as, for example, they were some of the key players in Chiadzwa, where Mugabe says $15 billion worth of diamond revenue is unaccounted for.

Hence, one can ask whether the military is seeing a speck in someone’s eye, yet it has a log in its own eye.

Without a doubt, corruption is a huge problem in Zimbabwe and anyone who speaks against the vice should be applauded.

However, in glee that graft is being addressed, there is a real worry that attention may diverted to something else other than the subject at hand.

For example, much of the debate now would be on what role the military should play in what is regarded as a civilian issue, instead of the subject they raised.

In a nutshell, we are now stuck debating the medium rather than the message.

That being said, we agree with Nyikayaramba that corruption is becoming a security issue and it is incumbent that Mugabe deals with it urgently.

From the “small corruption” by police officers, to grand larceny by political players, the situation long got out of hand and there is need for political will to weed out this vice.

Corruption is robbing the poor of basic services, while the high-ups are getting richer because of their proximity to power.

This creates a breeding ground for discontent and anger towards the government, probably translating to the security risk Nyikaramba alluded to.