Outcry as army wear is banned

HARARE - Opposition parties, civil rights activists and social media warriors have laid into the military for invoking the Defence Act to curb the wearing of camouflage clothing by members of the public, as the controversial fashion trend gains increasing popularity in the country.

This follows the announcement by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) yesterday that it would descend heavily on anyone caught wearing clothing resembling military wear, 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, the army warned.

“The Zimbabwe Republic Police will arrest culprits found in contravention of the above provisions using the standing statutes and cause their appearance before the courts of law for prosecution,” Makotore said, pointing to what he said was an increase in the number of armed robberies by criminals wearing clothes resembling military uniforms.

“There are also cases of individuals who are bent on tarnishing the image of the ZNA. The ZNA will guard against the misuse and abuse of its uniforms or any apparel resembling such,” he added.

He said uniforms, insignia and badges, which could pass for genuine service clothing, were finding their way to criminal elements through unscrupulous merchants or individuals who were selling these items.

“It is against this background that the ZNA wishes to advise traders and members of the public that it is unlawful to sell and wear any military regalia or replica, whether from Zimbabwe or any other country,” he said.

Citing section 99(2) (c) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02), the army public relations chief 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.

The military’s warning comes as there were widespread reports over the Christmas holiday of a flood of revellers in several Harare suburbs wearing military fatigues, who made it difficult for ordinary citizens to distinguish between military personnel and ordinary citizens.

But civic and opposition groups argued yesterday that replicas of army uniforms were now part of urban culture that should not attract the kind of sanctions envisaged by both the army and the law, attacking the ban as the hallmark of the totalitarian State that Zimbabwe has become.

“Zimbabwe is a fascist and oppressive police State. So, it’s not surprising at all that we have such provisions such as Section 99 of the Defence Act that seeks to criminalise the wearing of replica camouflage clothes by civilians.

“This is, indeed, the hallmark of a totalitarian State. Section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that every person has inherent dignity in their private and public life and the right to have that dignity respected and protected.

“Thus, it can be successfully argued that Section 99 (2) (c) and Section 99 (4) of the Defence Act violate the provisions of Section 51 of the Constitution and that they should be declared null and void by a competent court of law,” MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News.

“A civilian has the constitutional right to wear replica camouflage clothes as long as that right doesn’t infringe the provisions of Section 86 (1) and (2) of the Constitution which relate to the limitation of fundamental rights and liberties, provided that such limitation is fair, reasonable, necessary and justifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom,” he added.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson, Jacob Mafume, weighed in saying the army was now “majoring on the minor”.

“They go all out accusing people of robbing people in uniforms and provide no statistics to the increased robberies that they talk about.

“We all know that the people who have been stealing in uniforms are the police who have set up extortion centres disguised as lawful roadblocks. Crime has actually gone down because no one has money to be robbed, as it’s all stuck in the banks.

“Legally, the measure will not pass the constitutional test. How can a law jail someone for a year for wearing clothes?” Mafume thundered.

Civil rights activist, McDonald Lewanika, conceded that it was wrong and illegal for ordinary people to wear the national army uniform. However, he said, there was need for care in applying relevant laws.

“The blanket banning of anything resembling an army uniform is unreasonable as it begins to impede on people’s choice and freedom around what they can and cannot wear.

“While, it is understood that the army is an important and sensitive part of our society, we know that other outfits have actual replicas worn without any serious challenges,” Lewanika told the Daily News.

“I think the army is taking this matter out of proportion, especially seeing as it is that it is mostly young children who actually follow this urban fashion trend, and cannot in all conscience, be mistaken for the military,” he added.

Political analyst Gladys Hlatshwayo also said the military should focus “on more critical issues rather than banning the wearing of military fatigues”.

“ZNA has more fish to fry than this so-called camouflage issue that they are worrying about. They should return to being faithful servants of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and protecting the people of Zimbabwe.

“In my view, it is majoring in minors. The bigger fish to fry is professionalising the force to be a national army and not a party force,” Hlatshwayo said.

However, activist Maureen Kademaunga said the wearing of military regalia was outlawed in most countries and there were reasonable grounds to do this, including the fact that some people of dubious pedigree impersonated defence forces personnel for some form of gain.

“The only limitation in the current scenario here in Zimbabwe is that it’s such an obscure, mostly unknown law and there is therefore need to educate and inform the general public about it,” she told the Daily News.

“Hopefully the ZNA will take care to educate and conscientise the general public on this prohibition and also ensure that service men and women don’t take the law into their hands and start terrorising people as they have done in the past,” Kademaunga added.

Musician Jah Prayzah, who is the ambassador of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, has popularised the wearing of military fatigues. As a result, his musical shows are often packed with fans donning military colours.

However, and very importantly, Jah Prayzah only wears camouflage clothing either when he is performing on stage or when representing the interests of the military.

Makotore said artists wishing to wear their uniforms or replicas needed to be cleared by the military first.

“Regarding artists who perform while putting on army uniform, be advised that the wearing of any army uniform or decorations for the purposes of any bonafide stage, film or television production or military representation is an offence in terms of section 99(2) (c) of the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02).

“The artists should seek authority from army Headquarters to do so,” he said.

Comments (11)

Ban this nuisance thing of abusing the security uniforms it is a threat to national security I was actually for this since day 24-27 December 2016 ko commander in chief is quiet also about it and Chiwenga arikuti chii its so sad good move Makotore

BAN - 29 December 2016

this good because some people were taking advantage of wearing these camouflage vachizviita masoldier idzo dziri mbavha.a good move .vese arii kuchemera kupfeka izvi imbavha dzashaiswa mukana

chidhumo - 29 December 2016

thisis good because some people were taking advantage of wearing these camouflage vachizviita masoldier idzo dziri mbavha.a good move .vese arii kuchemera kupfeka izvi imbavha dzashaiswa mukana

chidhumo - 29 December 2016

I think its a good move by our defence forces to ban the wearing of army regalia. Some people are actually abusing the uniform to commit crimes. Batai vanhu mauto edu.

Observatory - 29 December 2016

the reason thieves, robbers and all can abuse military uniforms is the stupid myth with which our military carries itself. The military serves people, should carry themselves as servants of the people and not as being above the ordinary citizen. If this were the situation, no one would be afraid of soldiers and as such, no thief could get away with intimidating people wearing the uniform. In fact, the opposite would obtain. Can you imagine if our military carried itself with dignity, grace and pride as other nations do? In other countries, ordinary citizens will stop and say thank you, to men and women in uniform when they pass them on the streets. not to feel threatened each time you see a soldier's uniform. It is because soldiers have been abused, and they are in cahoots with ZANU pf for harassing and terrorizing citizens. People have the right to wear what ever they want. This nonsense of banning things is really ridiculous. Anytime you have a state impeding on rights and banning stuff like the flag, military regalia, etc. you are on a slippery slope.

gudo - 29 December 2016

The bigger pic is that people have no employment and are resorting to mabhero. these camouflages are coming from mabhero and people have no chois eexcept to wear what they afford. ipai vanhu mabasa. evn those thieves its as a result of a jobless society...

mukomionderA - 29 December 2016

fuck these army pricks. they are easily bought!

pussy2 - 29 December 2016

Ini yangu camouflage yakafanana neye kuMalawi. Saka ndisanzwe mumwe achiti ndafeka camouflage yeZNA tinonetsana kuswika hameno hameno. Nyika ine ma problems anoto kunda uniform iyi. Lets deal with those first tozopinda iyi isina basa

Nyimo - 29 December 2016

the country`s economy is crumbling and yet the army got resources to crack down on imposter army regalia. this fashion trend is everywhere and we become the first state to ban it. what a shame. lets all work toward the resuscitation of the economy and leave the public alone.

ka2zvi - 31 December 2016

Can Makotore update us on the Zengeza soldier alleged to have stolen mercury or such from work to blow up tokoloshis in Zengeza 2 a couple of years back. Or the Beitbridge one who put his Avtomat Kalashnikov aside to enjoy a whore, losing the AK in the process? or those soldiers/police who fired teargas at night clubs in the CBD a couple of weeks back? You have a lot of bad apples, sir pluck those out first - you might end up with no image to protect!! Like the police, only their relatives like them or rather their behaviour.

Sagitarr - 4 January 2017

military appearal is one of the best appearal us see it myoperatorwear.com

robibn - 9 October 2017

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