De-Radicalizing Zimbabwe’s Security Forces

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By Tawanda Sithole

Zimbabwe has unknowingly been in the grip of extremism of some kind – tribal, linguistic and racial, almost for a long time now.

FOUR decades after independence, Zimbabwe continues to struggle with basic issues relating to democracy, constitutionalism and of course, national identity.

Elections are a saga of violence and vote-rigging. The rampant tortures and murders of political foes and an ever deteriorating law and order situation transformed Zimbabwe into a spotlight for international rebuke and condemnation because of gross human rights abuses.

Contrary to popular belief and perception, radicalisation is not confined to political orientation or affiliation alone, anyone in Zimbabwe is a radical with gross ignorance being the prime factor of radicalisation.

Political extremism is flourishing like never before among youth in Zimbabwe, because of political chaos, unemployment and violence which has spawned disillusionment among the masses perplexed by the involvement of the radical state security forces in the war against dissenting voices critical of President Mnangagwa and the Zanu Pf system.

De-radicalisation is the process of changing an individual’s belief system, rejecting the extremist ideology and embracing mainstream values. Imagine the Army – General and his colleague high ranking security counterparts doing that. The concept is manifested in the counter and de-radicalisation programme to demobilise violent extremists harboured in the security forces and anywhere else in a generally peace-loving Zimbabwean populace.

The king makers in uniform – security forces, they are in a ditch and coming out of the deep depression means a paradigm shift. But militaries around the world are conservative and players of the status quo often against the will of the electorate, definitely undermining the principle of democracy we so much seek to embrace in totality.

Would it be status quo or paradigm shift come 2023 elections? I do not see that changing anytime soon though time will tell. Iam not a prophet.

In Zimbabwe, years of ineffective democracy and leadership crisis in both the ruling and mainstream opposition led to the bad quality of governance becoming abysmal, with national institutions more dysfunctional than they were when they were inherited from the former colonial masters, the Brits. These, coupled with corruption, nepotism and the brutality sometimes of the security forces, are rapidly eroding people’s faith in democracy and all its related institutions.

Whilst the demography of the democratic system makes it possible for one party to govern, the absence of proportional representation in Zimbabwe mean the government doesn’t represent all, not even the majority of the voters. A large proportion of the electorate has no voice in Parliament.

The problem with the “Doctrine of Necessity” is that in Zimbabwe, it competes with the “Doctrine of Absurdity”. The occasional anthropological factoid is thrown in for effect and qualifies as the new authoritative work on the Zimbabwean society.

How else can you describe how and why Zanu Pf retains legitimacy? How incongruous that those involved in electoral forgery and chicanery frame the laws that we have to adhere to?

De-radicalisation of the security forces in Zimbabwe will definitely be a step ahead to our nation’s democratization.

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