Villagers fear army expansion

MUTOKO - Villagers here feel threatened by the armys current recruitment drive that has absorbed most of the perpetrators of violence against MDC supporters during the June 2008 presidential election run-off.

Organisers of the recruitment exercises increased the age limit from 22 to 30, with members of the Border Gezi militia being conscripted. “Our supporters are now more than ever afraid of the army because of the current recruitment. The soldiers from the battalion are saying that there preparing for war,” said Silas Gweshe the Secretary for Information and Publicity for Mashonaland East Province. According to Gweshe, chiefs and headmen are providing the army with people who should be recruited into the army.

According to Civil Society Monitoring Mechanization (CISSOM), a grouping of civil society organisations independently monitoring the progress of the Inclusive Government, “The conduct of the Police, Army and Prison service has remained in breach of the spirit of the Inclusive Government intended to reform these and inculcate a culture of respect for human rights.” Civil organisations and the MDC have repeatedly called for the reform of the army that remains largely pro-Zanu (PF), but to date nothing has been done. Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Defense, Emmerson Mnangangwa, were fruitless. Despite its relatively small size and population, Zimbabwe has one of the biggest armies in the SADC region.

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