Youths from Matabeleland shun army

via Youths from Matabeleland shun army | The Zimbabwean 16 July 2014

Young men and women from southern Zimbabwe are shunning recruitment in the army – largely because of bitterness over past military atrocities.

Since the 1980s the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has been struggling to attract sufficient numbers from the Matabeleland provinces, say military sources.

Whenever recruitment for general or officer cadet training courses is done, the 10 provinces are supposed to contribute equal numbers of recruits.

“We tend to get overwhelming responses from other provinces, but we always have a headache getting interested recruits from Matabeleland South and North. Bulawayo is not much of a problem because it is a mixed urban province,” a senior officer told The Zimbabwean recently.

During the 2014 officer cadet screening exercise, the army recruiting office had the same problem and was forced to relax its conditions in order to meet the quotas from southern Zimbabwe. The selections took place in several provinces and wound up at the Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) just outside Gweru, the Midlands provincial capital, last month. Each province was supposed to contribute about 75 recruits. “The maximum recruitment age is 22 years, but in order to get enough numbers, we ended up accepting aspiring officer cadets well beyond the limit. We also relaxed the requirement on education and were forced to consider some who had not passed O-Level English or Maths,” said another source. Because of the need to fill the quotas for the southern regions, army aspirants from other regions who turned out overwhelmingly and had good passes at A-Level, missed out as the military bent over backwards to accommodate defaulting provinces.

Young people from that area still resent the army because of the atrocities it committed during Gukurahundi in the early 1980s, which claimed an estimated 20,000 innocent civilians, according to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.

President Robert Mugabe unleashed a Korea-trained crack army unit, 5 Brigade, in the region purportedly to suppress a military uprising by the late Joshua Nkomo’s (PF) Zapu. The crackdown was based on military intelligence information that claimed that (PF) Zapu was sponsoring dissidents who planned to violently overthrow Mugabe’s government following the party’s defeat in the 1980 majority general elections that removed white minority rule.

In his memoirs, The Story of My Life, and at other forums, Nkomo vehemently denied the claim and accused Mugabe of political victimisation.The army, working in collaboration with other state security agencies, also cracked down on parts of the Midlands where CCJP said entire families were wiped out.

“These young men might be too young to have witnessed Gukurahundi, but their parents and relatives keep reminding them. The ghost remains and a large section of the population from that region see the army as the animal that wanted to wipe them out,” added the source.

In addition, the resistance to military recruitment is fuelled by young people preferring to go to South Africa and Botswana to look for jobs, instead of the rigours of army training.

The army public relations office had not responded to e-mailed questions sent more than a week ago at the time of going to print.


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    “crack army unit, 5 Brigade” my foot there was nothing crack about this unit. They went about butchering unarmed civilians what’s so crack about that????

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    Can’t blame them,it’s true they were not born yet but they belong.

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    Straight Shooter 9 years ago

    Why join a Gukurahundi outfit, that passes itself out as a modern army? This is just a terrorist organisation meant to mantain the gukurahundis in power. It would be the saddest irony for uMthwakazi to be a part of this rubbish!!

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    Straight Shooter 9 years ago

    Whilst we are at it; that quota system you are using for your gukurahundi army is the best formula for overall development of the country as a whole. It should be used for:

    1. Scholarships, like what Masiyiwa is doing at Dr Joshua Nkomo Foundation;

    2. For University and College places;

    3. Employment opportunities; where locals come first in menial jobs. Only in highly skilled professions should there be an exception. This will benefit every province;

    4. The awarding of tenders;

    5. Provincial development Funding e.g. Toll fee outlays; and

    6. OTHER!

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    Reverend 9 years ago

    Well done our Mat boys, it is good to know that you have not fallen for joining that brainwashed bunch of lily livered yellow streaked zpf murderers.
    Maybe I lost my head there…sorry.

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    Reverend a perfectly normal reaction. Why would any straight thinking person join an army that glorifies an individual? You do that and he might ask you to kill your mother. We all know that during Hitlers reign over Germany the youth and the Army were expected to spy on their families. A defense force is supposed to protect the population of a country. These have been known to be unleashed on their own people. Brainwashed. Yes. Why would these boys want to be brainwashed?

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    Petal 9 years ago

    Dont blame them at all

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    I feel pity of my half brothers in Mtwakazi. That government is a government of thugs. Since I was 5 years I had professed that this government will torture and butcher people. Unfortunately my parents will shut me up and lock me when I asked them why are you always glorifying Mugabe as of we don’t have other people to loof forward. He is a god to them. The thugs in camaflauge and the thugs you call police.

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      Straight Shooter 9 years ago

      Then why do you feel pity for Mthwakazi? You are contradicting yourself here. You should be feeling pity for those who are joining, since they have had families and relatives falling victim to this gukurahundi military outfit that passes itself for a modern army.

      There is certainly a lot of confusion out the in the Shona-speaking regions. I think that is why it has proven impossible to remove Mugabe from power.

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        ZANU is reviled in Mashonaland, fact.
        My 80yr old mum knows Mugabe is a tyrant, so do many others.
        Zim is a brutal dictatorship, something that doesn’t need stating, I would have thought.

        The Mtland guys are justified in their stance but there is no need to try and divide our country on tribal lines.
        That way only leads to further conflict and possible genocide.

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    nyoni 9 years ago

    The People have a right to chose what they want to do and If I had the choice I would not join a defiled ZNA who live to humiliate others. Pasi ne Zanu.

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    chidhongoti 9 years ago

    Why would the boys from Matland want to join the same people who killed their relatives? Why do they seem to want them so bad for the army and not like Straight Shooter said, Scholarships, etc? Is it a case of wanting to keep the enemy close? We all know that shonas in Zanu dont like people from Matland and will never do so. I would rather languish in a foreign country than be tormented by my fellow country men in Zanu. Army, Police, Zanu, all smell the same. Corrupt, mean, tribalists.

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    I do not intend to open old wounds, neither is it my attention to condone the killing of human beings of any form but to point out some issues that will help people to discuss the Gurahundi and other “tribal issues” in a more balanced form. It is sad ,very sad that people, especially, those who were innocent were caught in cross-fire during the Gurahundi error ! It is equal sad that during the Ndebele invasions into Mashonaland innocent people were killed, and young and strongman and pretty women abducted (amahole/Kalanga) . The million dollar question is why were there Ndebele incursions into Mashonaland and why did Gurahundi come into being? Oral and written history has it that the Ndebele , living in a dry area , went into Mashonaland to collect food and cattle and also to get manpower for their army and women to try and raise their population and during that process innocent people were either killed or maimed and their homes torched. Gurahundi,on the other hand, came about as a result of an uprising by pro-ZAPU militants/ Super ZAPU, armed with guns and other equipment, who went about committing atrocities in Matebeleland and the Midlands Provinces. Naturally the national army had to intervene quell the uprising , to protect lives and property. Those who harboured and, unfortunately , those who where believed to harbour the militants were adversely affected just as is the case in any war situation be it in Afganstan or Iraq. During the war of liberation in Zimbabwe many people died in cross _fire.

    I was learning at a former all- white college in Byo in the early 80’s when tourists were abducted on Vic Falls road and killed and Entumbane erupted and we could not get to the western suburbs for some time because the area was sealed for security reasons.

    While I accept that it is difficult, if not impossible, to let by-gones be by-gones, it is my unbridled desire that where ever the Ndebeles and the Shonas are they should treat each other with respected ,especially, for the sake of future generations. Let the discussion continue!