Watching a recent viral video, featuring a policewoman apparently slapping a female pupil at Kwekwe High School (where I also did my six years of secondary education between 1987 and 1992) – for ostensibly failing to don a face mask, in the midst of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic – touched the very core of my heart, as I found myself saying, “Not again”, at this seemingly unending streak of the brazen violation of human rights, committed with scant regard for the defenceless population, who would normally expect and seek protection from the very same people who are abusing them.
Nonetheless, whilst still pondering on this issue, in the midst of a barrage of questions as to the root of such rage and violence amongst our otherwise highly professional and competent security personnel, an anecdote that most of us have most likely heard before, immediately came to mind.
There is a story of a man who had been ill-treated at work by his boss, yet due to understandable fear of losing his job, did not complain, but rather went home filled with pent up anger, and proceeded to beat up his wife. The wife, similarly fearing her husband’s further abuse, did not resist, instead opting to vent her own infuriation on the children – who in turn, went on the kick and beat up the dog.
As much as this may sound throughly amusing, however, its implications are nothing entertaining, but touch the very core of our society as a people – and, this also includes our own security sector.
Indeed, the actions of the man, wife, and children in the tale, are far from excusable – as there can never be any justification for abusing the weaker amongst us, and is, in fact, a form of cowardly bullying – nonetheless, tracing the origins of such despicable and unacceptable behavior is the best way of eradicating it.
As world-renowned Zimbabwe musician, the late national hero Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi, aptly articulated by singing, “Tanga waona kuti chakonzera musoro kutema chii” – loosely meaning, we should always diagnose the reason for a headache, as opposed to merely treating the symptoms.
In other words, if we ever hope to solve a problem, we need to understand its root cause, then deal with that – since treating what we perceive on the surface does not resolve anything, but is merely cosmetic and temporary.
This takes us back to the never-ending ‘pandemic’ of security forces’ wanton abuse of defenceless citizens.
Indeed, this behavior can never, and will never, be excused – for whatever reason – since, every officer is held at very high standards in fulfilling their constitutional obligations of, most prominently, preserving internal security of Zimbabwe, protecting and securing the lives and property of the people, and maintaining law and order [Section 219(1)] – and as such, can not be expected to be ones at the forefront of breaking the law by manhandling citizens, or being a threat to individuals’ security.
Be that as it may, returning to the earlier story of the man ill-treated by his boss, it would be grossly erroneous for us not to delve deeper into the possible root causes of this brutal mentality by the security forces, mainly against the population – as simply concentrating on the symptoms would never solve this problem.
Are our security officers truly angry or hateful towards the ordinary citizenry of Zimbabwe?
As much as we have witnessed countless acts of brazen cruelty and barbarity by our forces, after being deployed by the opportunistic elitist ruling clique to brutalize and even commit heinous atrocities, largely against opposition parties, and human rights activists – we can not seriously attribute the beating up of a schoolgirl, for not wearing a face mask, to the same.
Could this not be instigated by something entirely different?
Would it be outrageous if we were to say that our security forces are just as disgruntled as all other Zimbabweans – especially, those in the civil service – who have had to endure untold suffering under unsustainable and unbearable economic challenges, whilst undertaking a seemingly thankless, but dangerous job?
The authorities should never take this disgruntlement by the civil service, including security sector, for granted – as this is a ticking time-bomb, that requires to be treated with the urgency and seriousness it deserves.
For the regime to merely watch, whilst such clear expressions of displeasure play out in public, against a defenceless population, is not only foolish, but a real danger for the country’s own security – because, as with any other pent up anger, this will blow up sooner or later, and the results are seldom good.
Let us not forget that, even that ill-treated man will inevitably pluck up the courage to stand up against his boss, the wife will be fed up enough to take action against her abusive husband, the children may speak up against their mother’s beatings up, and the dog could just bite back.
Such despicable scenes of citizens being abused by those entrusted to protect them – as much as never excusable – should be a loud wake up call for the Zimbabwe authorities to finally tackle the plight of all its employees with the seriousness it deserves – as merely giving meaningless and cosmetic salary increments, under pathetic conditions of service, no longer cuts it.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author, and speaker. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp: +263733399640 / +263715667700, or Calls Only: +263782283975, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured