Ban of military wear sends right signal

HARARE - Ordinary and long-suffering Zimbabweans who have spent their money on clothes resembling military wear have every reason to feel unhappy at the decision taken by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) to ban people from wearing military fatigues.

The ZNA has warned that it would descend heavily on anyone caught wearing clothing resembling military uniforms, with its spokesperson Alphios Makotore imploring authorities to ensure the immediate arrest and speedy trial of all those found contravening the law.

In addition, shops and other sources of such clothing caught trading or selling replicas of battle fatigues would also be punished severely, they warned.

Citing section 99(2) (c) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02), the army said any person convicted for violating this law would be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year, or to both sanctions.

For those people who have been wearing the military wear — riding on the popularity of the fatigues – their anger and disappointment should not be used to attack laws that are there to safeguard the interests of both the public and the state.

The decision to invoke the Defence Act was long overdue as ordinary people found it difficult to distinguish between real soldiers from fashionistas riding on the trending fatigues.

In an environment such as ours where there is mistrust between security forces and ordinary people – due to historical political issues – there are certain communities that view the presence of military personnel as disturbing.

This is especially so when one considers that generally the military is normally confined to the barracks.

The current economic turmoil has also contributed to the spiking of criminal cases.

In some cases robberies have been committed by armed people wearing these military fatigues – casting serious aspersions and harming trust between real soldiers and ordinary people.

The ZNA has a duty to preserve its integrity and protect ordinary people from dangers arising from the abuse of their uniforms.

There must never be doubt about the identity of the army whether one is in Chiendambuya, Dotito, Ngezi or Kezi.

Most countries have outlawed the use of military fatigues by civilians and Zimbabwe should be no exception.

In fact, the law has been in place but authorities were reluctant to invoke it — choosing to use unorthodox means such as forcing those caught wearing military wear to strip.

Zimbabwe’s military identity deserves to be protected from abuse!

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