The people are the enemy

I was perturbed recently to hear a community group in a rural area reporting on their successes in developing their community.

They had paid fees for many children to go to school. Of these, 23 completed form four last year. That is commendable. Of those 23, eight passed five or more subjects, well above the national average, so that sounds good too. But wait for the rest of the story. Of those eight, five got jobs, all of them in the police, the army or the prison service. Is that really the best anyone can hope for with 5 O-levels?

Could none of those bright young people find some productive activity making something people need to buy? Are none of them going to form 5 with the hopes of getting higher education, leading to a better paid and more useful career? Where are the youngsters who used to hope to become teachers, doctors or engineers? They at least were trying to serve their communities.

These uniformed employees of Zanu (PF) don’t produce anything useful. I wonder whether I should even describe them as employees, because Zanu (PF) didn’t rush in to help when last year the police commissioner-general put thousands of youths into those grey and blue uniforms after the Minister of Finance had forbidden further recruitment because government didn’t have the money to pay extra salaries.

Government revenue collection has not increased noticeably since last July, so we are left with a police force that lives (or half its members live) on bribes and extortion. Do we want our children to do that?

Do we want them trained to beat up innocent people, or any people? Do we want to train them for “hit and run” attacks on any kombi that doesn’t belong to their officers? Do we want them trained to see the people, who are after all, their parents, as the enemy? Have you noticed how few of those young recruits venture out on the streets in uniform alone? I don’t know anyone who is planning to assault these symbols of state power, but they seem to expect us all to be waiting for any opportunity to trap them in some quiet alleyway and commit violence on them.

Recently I had a front seat view as a kombi gained its credentials as a veteran of the ongoing war with the cops. The vehicle was waiting at Copacabana to fill up, when we heard a sudden sharp crack and the kombi shuddered as the driver tried to decide whether to run or stand his ground. The passengers urged him to run; we all wanted to get home, so he did that. He accelerated round a corner then, to our surprise, announced that he was going back for more passengers. He’d just had his windscreen bashed and he was going back for more? That sounded dangerous.

When we got back to where we had started, there was no sign of the cop. I never saw him (or her?) or any cop, and I was in the front seat. He (or she?) seemed to have absorbed the first lesson in our modern ZANU Regulated Police; the people are the enemy. No doubt in a crowd of his colleagues he would have the courage to use his baton to break more than windscreens, but on his own he feels insecure. All he can do is hit windscreens and run for cover as if he was the criminal. Well, since Commissioner Chihuri told them they should not do this, he was the criminal.

Do we want our children taught to behave like that? They rely on the random use of force where a real policeman would have moral authority as a guardian of the laws made by our elected representatives for our benefit and in response to our wishes.

Do we congratulate our children on joining such a gang? Or have we the courage to teach them how things could and should be?

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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