Adding more bad apples to the basket... Chedondo waivers military recruitment requirements

Pro- democracy advocates have indicated the need for critical democratic reforms particularly within government institutions and the country's legal framework ahead of the holding of elections. However, it seems the requests have fallen on deaf ears with the public media churning out hate speech while the military continues to justify its support for ZANU PF. The people who purport to have gone to war in pursuit of freedom and emancipation continue to obliterate the very essence of independence by continuously trampling on the rights of citizens. Zimbabweans now have a general sense of fear and anxiety as the military continues to fight for Zanu PF's survival by uttering intimidating statements in the media in and threatening violence against citizens to arm twist them into voting for the political party.

The army has reportedly been on a massive recruitment drive targeting unqualified youths raising fears that, like the now defunct national youth service recruits widely known as 'Green Bombers', they could be used to campaign violently for ZANU PF. With the recent announcement by Chief of the General Staff, Major General Martin Chedondo that the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) is to waiver educational qualifications and recruit persons who do not meet its normal minimum requirements, fears abound that the army may be preparing to intensify its terror campaign to secure an electoral victory for their octogenarian Commander in Chief. Chedondo told State media last week the new policy would see the army recruiting from villages.

"Now that soldiers are being recruited from every village, we want to see a village that will go against national values," he said.

Many Zimbabweans particularly in rural areas continue to live in fear owing to the violence witnessed in 2008. The new recruitment policy is meant to create a pool of youths to instigate violence against civilians and comes at a time when ZANU PF is clamouring for the holding of elections.

Responding to Chedondo's remarks, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, Mr. Tabani Nyoni said,

'The army, which continues to be partisan and unprofessional, is simply embarking on constituency building on behalf of ZANU-PF. As long as security sector reforms are not in place, Zimbabwe will witness another bloody election.'

While University of Zimbabwe Lecturer Professor John Makumbe said during an interview with The Crisis Report,

"It is deplorable that the army is lowering standards like this. In actual fact it is recruitment of militia who will campaign for Robert Mugabe in the national elections. It is an abuse of national resources and is tantamount to corruption."

Commenting on the same issue, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) Chairperson, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said,

"...this is just a means of creating another militia for ZANU PF. Institutions such as the army are constitutional bodies and hence all its employees must have at least a minimum of 5 O' levels and be able to read and write. There is no war in Zimbabwe so the army should concentrate on protecting civilians".

Violence is likely to escalate in the next polls given that Mugabe and his cronies have lost the support base over the past decade to secure an electoral victory. In response to his waning support, President Mugabe has presided over a systematic militarisation of Zimbabwe; giving sweeping powers to the military as a way of shoring up the rule of the increasingly reviled ZANU PF party.

Most of the generals are also looking to Mugabe for protection amid growing calls by progressive forces for their prosecution for gross human rights abuses."©In 2008, fearing Mugabe's defeat, senior army commanders, including ZDF commander General Constantine Chiwenga and several top generals, issued menacing remarks in 2008 bordering on coup threats, and embarked on a campaign of violence and reprisal attacks against the civilian population prompting even regional governments to condemn them.

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