Former Minister Godfrey Gandawa has said that guns that are being used to commit armed robberies in Zimbabwe were seized by army from CIOs and police officers during the 2017 military takeover that ousted late former President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Gandawa said:
The seemingly sudden wave of armed robberies involving members of the defence forces is linked to the chaotic, unlawful and dangerous takeover of armouries during the 2017 coup where the police and intelligence services were disarmed without a formal handover-takeover process.
During coup, every level of security perceived as hostile to the coup-makers was disarmed with weapons taken from lawful possession even at traffic stops. This chaotic process included no documentation. It is unclear that these weapons were returned to state custody.
Indeed, given the fluid situation and the fear of a counterattack that was prevailing at the time, it appears unlikely they would have readily surrendered the weapons to a central authority which could fall out of their control.
A new status quo now prevails in which an unknown quantity of weapons are in the possession of criminal elements linked to the security forces. These weapons add a new dimension to Zimbabwe’s security situation and are possibly outside Mnangagwa’s control.
This is a real possibility for the simple reason that many lower-level coup co-conspirators are yet to be paid for their service. There is growing bitterness within the armed forces over unfulfilled coup promises while the top ranks enjoy the fat of the new dispensation.
Govt cannot dismiss these armed robbers as rogue soldiers given the repeated pattern of military personnel involvement. It is clear that there is a new source of insecurity linked to the army and this requires an honest and meaningful response from govt.
In any case, the rogue soldier argument is disproven by the actions of the military subsequent to the killing of these armed robbers. You cannot claim a soldier has gone rogue and yet bury him with military honours following his death at a crime scene.
It is futile for govt to discourage the public from holding large sums of money. Nobody in their right mind wants the risk of carrying large sums of cash; the practice has arisen due to the collapse of confidence in the banking system post the 2017 coup.
The bogus foreign currency auction rate is theft by administrative fiat and no amount of persuasion will convince the public to deposit funds into a banking system which forcibly liquidates up to 40% of hard currency at that rate. The public is in an impossible position.
The same is true of cross-border traders robbed on their way to South Africa. Most will be carrying cash. Mnangagwa, Mangudya and Mthuli have had four years to fix the central issue of confidence: they have failed as demonstrated by widespread banking hesitancy.
The banking solution is simple enough: stop stealing from the public by means of the official exchange rate. The problem of military personnel involvement in armed robberies cannot be solved without admitting to its existence. For now, govt believes there is no problem.
That these interlinked problems have not aroused alarm in govt is yet another sign that Mnangagwa has no real interest in governance, merely its trappings. His is a govt of thugs intent on plundering public resources; they have no aspiration to improve people’s lives.
Meanwhile, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) President Paddington Japajapa has urged the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander Lieutenant General David Sigauke, and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga to introduce strict disciplinary measures to curb the unwarranted indiscipline in the security forces.
“CSOs are calling upon the government of Zimbabwe to urgently make security service sector reforms, otherwise Zimbabwe shall continue to be one of the most dangerous places to live in,” Japajapa said.
“Reorient and reintroduce strict disciplinary measures to all serving soldiers and police officers. Many officers in the ZNA and ZRP have become a security risk to the nation’s citizenry. Instead of citizens feeling confident and comfortable to co-exist with ex and serving members of the security forces, the opposite is now happening,” Japajapa said.
Japajapa said the recent armed robbery case in Chadcombe, Harare which ended up with three of the five armed robbers being gunned down by retired police detective Joseph Nemaisa was an example of the prevalence of bad apples within the police force and army.
The Chadcombe armed robbery case involved three serving members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, including one who was on duty.
“Imagine, soldiers who are on duty finding spare time to go and rob residents of their hard-earned cash and other valuable goods, it shows how discipline and close supervision is lacking in the police force and the army hierarchy.”
Japajapa, a former liberation war detainee and war collaborator, accused the security service bosses of failing to devise ways of dealing with such cases.
“This is a sign of failure to devise the latest intelligence information tactics by the security chiefs. Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri must organize an urgent strategic security sector meeting to deal with the situation which has gone out of hand.”
“Instead of channeling huge government resources towards planning on how to destroy Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance opposition political party, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime must make a paradigm shift in terms of safeguarding the lives citizens,” he said.
– My Zimbabwe/NewZimbabwe