AN ESTIMATED 100 soldiers last week "invaded" a dancehall music gig at the City Sports Centre in Harare forcing the promoters to hire three military police personnel to manage the troops.
About 10 of the "overzealous" soldiers, who were coming from the Harare Agriculture Show became a menace unleashing brutal attacks on defenceless civilians as they took over control of the crowds at the music concert, a task that was not theirs at all.
The soldiers virtually hijacked the concert's security and took full control of people's movements in and out of the venue. In so doing, they ended up beating up music fans, most of them youths, using sticks.
The Zimbabwe National Army distanced itself from the said rouge soldiers saying they are not hired to protect civilians at music gigs.
Chipaz Promotions director Partson Chimbodza who coordinated the music concert distanced himself from the mayhem.
"I only hired three military police to control over 100 soldiers who attended the show; I did not want them to clash with the civilians. On the civilian side, I engaged the services of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, ZRP officers and guards but I was astonished to find that a group of soldiers turned their anger on civilians," he said.
Chimbodza reasoned that the soldiers who caused confusion did so to create chaos to smuggle their girlfriends into the show.
"I was not impressed with the way these soldiers hijacked the programme, I even contacted their superiors to contain the situation. However, as Chipaz Promotions, we are apologising to all the victims of the overzealous soldiers on that night as we do not organise music concerts to cause harm to our fans," he said.
During the dancehall concert, Chimbodza said they were forced to close all entry points into the venue because the City Sports Centre was full to capacity.
"I had two shows (gigs) during that night, first at City Sports Centre and the other one was at Rainbow Towers (just a kilometre away) with the same line up of artistes. So I ended up referring the overflow to Rainbow Towers," said Chimbodza.
During that night, most enterprising Harare music promoters had gigs around the Harare Agricultural Show, trying to cash in on show goers since it was the last day.
At the Harare Agricultural Show, My Zimbabwe News witnessed uniformed members of the army collecting $1 and $2 from members of the public who could not spend hours waiting in long queues to get into the show. Soldiers would escort anyone who was willing to pay $2 or at least $1 to the front of the queue, right at the gate and repeat the same process, thereby turning the long queues into an income-generating 'project'. It is believed that the unscrupulous soldiers also wanted to find a way of cashing in on the concert like they had done at the show.
Of late, soldiers have become part of every meaningful showbiz event either through invitations or at times pushing the police to the periphery in controlling civilians.
During the 2014 first edition of Miss Zimbabwe pageant in Harare where beauty queen Thabiso Phiri clinched the Miss Zimbabwe title before relinquishing it, the event was heavily manned by senior army officials.