Will securocrats bow to civilian rule?

HARARE - It is quite evident that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabweans in general have a problem with some of the country’s military generals, and which issues are unlikely to be resolved quickly or easily — even in the event of an election.

Arising from the top military brass’s continued disrespect and Zanu PF supporters’ behaviour towards the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader at the Defence Forces Day celebrations in Harare yesterday, it is fair to say this disgraceful conduct is symptomatic of a more complex problem in our country.

While the refusal by some of President Robert Mugabe’s supporters to accept Tsvangirai as a legitimate Zimbabwean leader borders on sheer delusion and lack of appreciation of reality, the PM’s run-ins with some of these elements also stems from his criticism of their irresponsible behaviour, especially inflammatory language.

To a large extent, a number of Constantine Chiwenga’s hierarchical members have sought to peddle — at any given opportunity — the narrative that they would not salute nor respect anyone who has not served in their ranks.

Petty and partisan hatred has been the bane of local politics ever since Mugabe’s government took power in 1980, and yet a close analysis of this issue shows that this is a backward and colonial mindset.

And in lieu of statements by some generals around the recent holidays, there is also some evidence that the leadership or political elite which emerged from the liberation struggle has not fully transformed from being a military clique to a fully responsible civilian leadership.

It also goes without saying that such a mentality is based on the notion that: it is criminal to be different.

And in circumstances where armed forces are seemingly bent on amassing greater political, and social influence, we have every reason to be worried.

Put simply, Zimbabweans do not want to live in constant fear of a militarised state and there ought to civilian control over the military.

Which is why when Chiwenga dismisses — on national television — increasing calls for the military to remain under civilian rule, people get anxious.

With one of the cornerstones of our Constitution being the placement of the army and other armed forces under the control of the of the president — as head of the executive branch — it was hoped that this would keep the military and other overambitious elements from running the government by proxy.

Thus, we applaud Mugabe’s move in calling his supporters to order after booing Tsvangirai at some of the weekend’s festivities.

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