‘War veterans and military must not be involved in electoral affairs’

The ZPRA Veterans Association says members of the security services and war veterans must not be used to perpetuate violence in communities ahead of the 2023 national elections.

These sentiments come as the country gears up for the by-elections set for March 26 and the national elections set for next year.  

The appeal from the ex-ZPRA fighters also comes after the bombing of a memorial plaque at Bhalagwe Concentration Camp on January 4, 2022, by unknown assailants, suspected to be either state agents or people with a military background.

This memorial plaque was the third to be destroyed on the same site where two others were previously vandalised whereas the government refused to be drawn into the matter.

ZPRA Veterans Association Spokesperson, Buster Magwizi told CITE that security sector reform must take place in Zimbabwe for authorities to stop using the military and veterans for violent practices in the country.

“These reforms will change the status quo in the mindset of the security systems, that no one should use violence in Zimbabwe. We are dismayed and perplexed at the same time at the callous bombing that took place at Bhalagwe where a plaque that had been placed at the mass graves as a result of the Gukurahundi,” he said.

“Those who bombed the plaque are just showing signs of violence, they are propagating violence, they want to perpetuate violence. We don’t want violence in Zimbabwe, we abhor violence all those who are doing that must realise that they are jeopardising the security sector of this country, they are destabilising the security of this country.”

Magwizi noted that veterans of the liberation struggle must abstain from being used as political tools or instruments of violence during the election period.

“The use of the military, use of the security system, use of the national military, use of the national security system in the use of violence should not be entertained,” he stressed.

“Such use must be restricted by all means. It must not be applied and we are saying the military must never be used in the violence against unarmed civilians.”

The former freedom fighter said the military was there to defend the country and its borders from external interests.

“The military is not to be engaged in public violence with the communities particularly in political violence. We look forward that 2022 is the culminating year building up into the year of the elections, therefore we seek to call on all veterans to come together and do peace mitigation in preparation for the 2023 elections,” Magwizi said.

He emphasised that war veterans must not be found to be victimising the ‘very same people’ they liberated.

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