It had become common knowledge that the involvement of military power in the country’s political life, has been entrenched ever since independence from Britain in 1980 – with the notorious 5th Brigade’s alleged massacring of tens of thousands of innocent and defenceless men, women and children in the Midlands and Mathebeleland regions, to further the narrow and shallow political and tribalistic ambitions of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe-led ZANU PF regime.
The regime’s dependence on the military for survival became even more nationwide after Mugabe realized that his tribalistic and racist policies had dismally failed to endear him to the majority of the country’s population, and that he would lose any peaceful, free and fair election – as he resorted to brutality to force the electorate to vote for him.
This policy peaked in the 2000s, when hundreds of people were allegedly massacred and thousands more brutalized in various ways, in Mugabe’s cruel efforts to win elections, especially after his humiliating loss to the opposition MDC’s late charismatic leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in 2008 – resulting to a brutal campaign in the subsequent run-off election, as the winner apparently failed to garner an outright majority in the first round.
Several years down the line, Mugabe was to have a bitter taste of his own gruesome medicine, when the military involved themselves in the vicious internal fighting in the ruling ZANU PF party – as they took sides in the factional politics.
As the military was clearly sided with the Lacoste faction, led by then vice president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa – as opposed to the G40 group, led by then First Lady, Grace – Mugabe tried, albeit in vain, to dissuade the defence forces from indulging in politics.
However, it was too late, as Mugabe’s earlier actions in allowing the defence forces to be involved in the political affairs of the country, came back to bite him – leading to the November 2017 military intervention, which resulted in his ouster, and the emergence of Mnangagwa as the new leader.
This, after Mugabe had earlier sacked Mngangagwa as his vice president for both the ruling party and the country.
According to recent news reports, Mugabe has apparently decided not to go peacefully and silently, as he is allegedly behind a new political outfit, the New Patriotic Front (NPF), that is being fronted by retired Brigadier General Ambrose Mtinhiri – who last week resigned from the ruling ZANU PF party, as a protest against the former president’s ouster by the military.
What we are hearing is not good news at all, as this new group is touted to also be enjoying the backing of some segments of the military, and is said to be well-funded – allegedly, receiving private support from some regional countries.
Whether these reports are true or not, we can not know for the time being – but, one pertinent question begs answers from our country’s political players.
Knowing the devastation of war on the innocent and defenceless population, more so, vulnerable children – as we witness in conflicts in such places as Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and the Central Africa Republic (CAR) – do our political leaders not care what would happen in the event of a civil war in Zimbabwe?
Are they so obsessed with the attainment and retaining of political power, such that, they would not give a second thought if our children were massacred as a result of a brutal conflict?
Would they be militarily flexing their political muscles if their own children were also at the risk of being killed in an imminent war?
I would rather not think so!
Syria’s Bashir al Assad would not be callously indiscriminately bombing innocent people, if his own children were in such places as Eastern Ghouta.
As I have asserted before, politicians are an evil demon-possessed lot, such that, unless their own families are directly in harm’s way, they would not care less if the whole nation was reduced to ashes.
That is why, even during the country’s liberation struggle, most of the leaders were comfortably and safely in exile.
They then accused a man who cared and loved the people – ZAPU leader, Joshua Nkomo – of being a coward, for his reluctance in impulsively rushing to waging an armed struggle, yet he was just concerned about the welfare of the innocent.
No wonder, when these ZANU PF gansters perceived a political, but peaceful, threat to their fortunes after independence, they bated no breath in waging a brutal military crackdown on an innocent and defenceless people.
What type of people would do that?
Should that not tell us to reject such evil-minded people to be our leaders?
Why should we elect people who would not have any second thoughts about killing us, if their hold on power is threatened – and would not lose any sleep after that?
The people of Zimbabwe should have never encouraged this insanity in November last year, when masses turned out onto the streets to support an military takeover of the state – as that only encouraged the use of arms of war to attain political objectives.
As much as we were all disgruntled and angry with Mugabe’s misrule and brutal regime – resorting to, and encouraging, military force was not only unwise, but dangerous.
Now, as the new political outfit, the NPF, reportedly prepares for either an election or war, can we still pat ourselves on the back for our actions in November 2017?
Should we not have gone out onto the streets in our thousands to condemn any use of military force to resolve political matters?
Are our actions in November not going to come back and haunt us?
Be it as it may, we still have a chance to rectify our mistakes and unwise judgements by now unequivocally and loudly rejecting any military intervention by any side – be it ZANU PF or NPF.
We need to show these people – once and for all – that Zimbabweans have always been a peace-loving people, who believe in resolving their issues in a civilised manner.
We have displayed this trait over the course of Zimbabwe’s history, as we always expressed our displeasure with the ruling junta through peaceful protests – yet, were met by vicious brutality by those in power.
They are the ones who abducted peaceful protesters as Itai Dzamara, beat us up, tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, and arrested us – yet, we remained peaceful.
These are the very same people who now want to kill us through war, in order to settle their own petty, nonsensical, and shallow political differences.
They do not care that there are more pressing issues for Zimbabweans, such as, the urgent need for jobs, cash, the revamping of industry, the improvement of our education and health systems, and so many others.
These transcend far beyond who is in State House!
Mnangagwa and Mugabe have nothing much to lose in the event of an armed conflict – as only their grip on power is at risk – yet, the rest of us have everything at stake, including our families.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. He is the Programmes Director of the Zimbabwe Network for Social Justice (ZimJustice). Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975, or (calls ONLY) +263715667700, or email: [email protected]. Please also ‘Like’ the ‘ZimJustice’ page in Facebook.