THE military and other securocrats have been urged to desist from being used as Zanu PF agents and serve national interests.
This was said yesterday by opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa in his Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day statement, calling out the army for killing and perpetrating violence against defenceless civilians.
Chamisa said the military and other State actors were supposed to be real heroes that do not concentrate on aiding the ruling elite to perpetrate human rights abuses and rigging elections.
“It has always been our wish to preserve the desire by our heroes to have land, one man one vote and total independence with no one being beaten for political reasons, no arbitrary arrests, no intimidation and politicisation of chieftainship and inputs,” Chamisa said.
“The deeper meaning of a heroes’ day is located in finding each other to solve and end political hostilities, hate, harassment, human rights violations, rigged elections, conflict and violence. Heroes don’t beat, don’t harass, maim and murder people for politics, heroes don’t fail or fall,” he said.
The military under the Zanu PF-led administration has been accused of being partisan.
In November 2017, the military aided Mnangagwa to remove the late former President Robert Mugabe in a coup.
Chamisa said an MDC Alliance government would transform the process of declaring and conferring hero status in the country.
His sentiments were echoed by civic society organisations and rights groups who said militarisation of politics in the country had diminished the significance of the Defence Forces Day as soldiers were harassing civilians instead of ensuring security in the country.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum, in a statement to commemorate Heroes Day, said the event had lost meaning due to the insecurity of citizens and violence perpetrated by the securocrats.
“The 2021 Heroes Day commemorations occur when continuous violence is being perpetrated against civilians for political expediency. The forum laments the cyclic human rights violations occurring at the hands of the security forces, which are the heirs of the armed struggle heroes. The security sector remains at the centre of the violence which the forum continues to condemn.
“The war on human dignity spread beyond the State’s direct violence, as witnessed on August 1, 2018, January 14, 2019 and the COVID-19 lockdown violations in 2020 and 2021.”
The Human Rights NGO Forum said there was need to urgently put in place security sector reforms.
“…the work of the heroes and heroines of the armed struggle will never be complete until all the people of Zimbabwe are truly free and their rights and freedoms are respected and protected.
“Regrettably, this day has lost meaning for the generality of the people owing to the increasing insecurity for many vulnerable people due to the worsening economic situation, rising political tensions and the unending attack by the State on vulnerable citizens.
“Take advantage of this year’s Heroes’ Day to initiate a truly professional security force, which is driven by the ideals of ending repression drawn from our heroes.”
The opposition MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora said: “We urge authorities to take advantage of this year’s Heroes Day and Defence Forces Day to take steps to turn all arms of security into a truly professional security force which is driven by the ideals of ending repression drawn from our fallen heroes and serve and protect the people of Zimbabwe without fear or favour.”
On August 1 2018, six unarmed civilians were fatally shot on the streets of Harare during protests over election results. This was followed by other shootings where 12 more civilians were killed and several beaten up and tortured by security forces during fuel protests.
The perpetrators are yet to be brought to book.