The SADC summit in Angola was a defining moment for those pushing for early elections in Zimbabwe, emphasizing the need to implement the GPA to its fullest. One of the critical factors that needs to be dealt with, and it is becoming an urgent matter of concern, is reigning in the military from making comments that threaten the democratic processes. We remember fully the remarks made by one Brigadier Nyikayaramba and some of the senior Service Chiefs that the position of the president will only be occupied by people with liberation war credentials.
Now there is Major General Trust Mugoba quoted in The Herald of 5th June 2012 during the funeral parade of Lieutenant-Colonel Thabani Khumalo at Imbizo Barracks;
“Society must understand that the land reform and the Indigenisation programmes are part of our revolutionary history. As the military, we do not only believe, but act in defense of these values and we will not respect any leader who does not respect the revolution. We will not even allow them to go into office because they do not represent the ideology we fought for. As the military establishment, we have an ideology that is represented in the mission of Zanu-PF…”
This is a clear sign that some sections of the military are a threat to democracy and bolster the need for security sector reforms amongst other reforms. It is true that the military defends a country from threats, but to make statements to the fact that even democratically elected representatives will not occupy the office of the president is holding the nation to ransom. It is a declaration that even the will of the people will be subverted if an outcome of an election does not declare ZANU PF as the winner. With such thoughts, who would begrudge the citizens of this country for thinking that the March 2008 election delay in releasing the results was a military exercise because the preferred candidate had not won?
The gains of the revolution must be safeguarded by all patriotic Zimbabweans. But there has to be a shared vision in all we do. Take for instance the land reform programme that resulted in multiple farm ownership by the chefs and the continued looting of farm implements at the expense of the masses. That was not part of the revolutionary ideals and can be summed up as a revolution that lost its way.
But the Major must be reminded that, we have a right to determine our own destiny, we have a right to choose our leaders. If the people elect a “puppet”, it is their puppet and that is their democratic right. The army must not influence the choices people make regarding their representatives, because these choices are informed by the experiences people have gone through over the last three decades. Political parties must sell their message to the people without the backing of the guns.
We have seen smooth transitions in the last few months in Southern Africa, in Malawi, Zambia and most recently in Lesotho. What the people say is what goes in some other African states. Threats by the military in Zimbabwe’s context are a clear demonstration that we are still a long way from conducting peaceful and credible elections whilst the army continues to make threats.