A Newsday opinionist has responded to VP Mohadi’s gloating remarks over the weekend when he said people may call them the junta but they were still in power. The opinionist said the problem was not about them being in power, but how they got in power and how they were executing their mandate during their tenure. Opined the columnist
There is absolutely nothing wrong with former military personnel presiding over civil administration in Zimbabwe, or anywhere in the world for that matter. They are citizens of this country with full rights to participate in its democratic processes as is the norm in advanced democracies where former soldiers have ruled. This is our message to Vice-President Kembo Mohadi, who declared in a chilling statement at the weekend that the “junta” that is in power in Zimbabwe is determined to hold on, no matter what.
The problem is how the war veterans execute their mandate during their tenure. It is also so much about how they come to power, and whether they are ready to transform from a military mindset and embrace tenets of civilian life. They won’t be presiding over soldiers alone. We are totally against having a junta preside over State affairs through stolen elections, violating democratic principles or overexerting power and relegating the Constitution to play second fiddle.
Once that is allowed to happen, we open the floodgates to heinous rights abuses that end up creating an inhabitable country.
We have already seen this happen since the administration that Mohadi is part to, took power in a coup in 2017. It is chilling to imagine that this is how the regime will continue to behave if it decides to hold on to power as the VP intimates. The bloody crackdown against peaceful demonstrators after the July 2018 elections is a case in point. Demonstrators were sprayed with bullets and many were injured, while six died.
We thought President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sincere when he set up a high-level commission of enquiry into the shooting incident. To our dismay, he was not and the commission, led by a former regional head of State, no less, was just part of a scheme to hoodwink the public and world at large that he was serious about tackling human rights abuses.
A string of recommendations made by the panel are yet to be implemented and the “junta”, as Mohadi put it, continues to violate rights. The crackdown on investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is a case in point. The arrest of right defenders like opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume and Job Sikhala amplifies our concern that the “junta” is up to no good.
In the advanced jurisdictions that we have referred to including the US, the “junta” has ruled for many years but not a single citizen feels that they are under someone who once fought in the bush. They respect the rule of law, they tolerate divergent views and they don’t just fire bullets at will. They respect the sanctity of life. Their police are not caricatures of ruthless militias that extort money from innocent citizens. The hold fair and transparent elections.
This is not the case in Zimbabwe today. This “junta” needs to reform