As the nation commemorates the Defences Forces Day, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has challenged the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) to be professional in the discharge of their national duties.
The challenge comes after the military has been used by the state to silence dissenting voices in the country since the November 2017 coup that toppled former president Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabwe today commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Defence Forces Day.
In a statement, ZCTU secretary-general, Japhet Moyo, said it was regrettable that the country’s defence forces were no longer serving the interests of the people.
“It is also disheartening that some members of the defence forces are being implicated and used in the brutal oppression of the masses they are supposed to protect,” bemoaned Moyo.
“We have seen civilians being shot at point-blank range by members of the security forces for demonstrating against the government. We have also had people being abducted and tortured by people who are alleged to be members of the security forces.”
He said people expected better services from the defence forces.
“We urge our defence forces to uphold their ethical and professional oaths and to protect the people not individuals or political parties,” said Moyo.
“Their allegiance is to Zimbabwe, its constitution and no one else. We believe that those who are being abused to oppress the citizens are a few rogue elements benefiting from the feeding trough. These are the same people who are moving around harassing and extorting money from people in the name of enforcing lock down measures.”
The ZCTU secretary-general said while the majority of defence forces remained loyal to Zimbabweans, the few rogue elements were inflicting irreparable damage to the military and the country’s image.
“Let this holiday be a time of reflection for our leaders,” he said.
“The post November 17, 2017 has seen serious military miscalculations by our defence forces. 1 August 2018 and January 2019 killings stick out. Of recent, abductions and the July 31, 2020 clampdown on a planned demonstration against corruption flies in the face of our military and its respect for democracy.”