Soldiers, police joining Zim protests
From MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE is on the verge of a revolt by uniformed forces amid reports some unpaid rank and file members joined mass protests demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe and his administration.
The defence forces leaders are credited with retaining Mugabe in power since independence but ordinary officers are frustrated by failure to receive their salaries, for the umpteenth time, sparking an unprecedented move to protest.
Officers speaking to CAJ News on condition of anonymity expressed solidarity with the protesting masses, pointing out they also were not exempt to the economic crisis besetting the country.
“We have families to look after, so, the protests that you are seeing here setting Harare alight have involved some of us,” said a soldier.
A flight air commando from the Manyame Airbase outside Harare, expressed disappointment at not receiving his salary on Friday.
Zimbabwe has run of currency, a few years after its shelved its worthless Dollar, which at the country’s peak was one of the most lucrative currencies.
The air force officer said they were also affected by the rampant corruption.
Ironically, security personnel have responded heavy-handedly to the protests, incurring widespread condemnation.
Police have since arrested 87 people in connection with the last week’s violent protests.
“My warning to the police is that they must stop using force against civilians, otherwise we will soon take arms to defend the mass,” said the air force commando.
In a separate interview, an officer with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) said he was no longer taking orders from his superiors when it comes to arresting civilians suspected of instigating violent protests.
“Despite being law enforcers, we know corruption is the root cause of these problems,” he said.
More protests are scheduled for the major cities of Harare and Bulawayo this week.
– CAJ News
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