DEAR PRES M R TSVANGIRAI from F JASI
Dear Prime Minister
On the eve of the past two presidential elections, the military and security generals publicly vowed never to salute you even if you won the poll. Yet on Tuesday, in a packed stadium to mark Defence Forces Day, you finally got the salute from these generals. Of course you would have eventually been saluted by either them or their successors. Anyone could have predicted that soon or later there was no other way to go for them besides doing what any sane military leader in a democratic state is expected to do which is to salute the democratically elected Prime Minister or President of the country. We were not at all surprised when finally the generals got to do what is right in the eyes of God, the people of Zimbabwe, and the law. And by saluting you they acknowledged that military and security institutions should be immune from party politics. These institutions belong to the state that is the people of Zimbabwe and not ZanuPF nor the MDC.
But you know what really surprised us? The conditions under which you are said to have finally achieved that. Sir, if what is said by the private and international media is anything to go by then we the Zimbabwean people need divine intervention. How can you let a mere salute blind you that much? Even if they were never going to salute you, you were still going to remain the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. A salute says more about the person saluting than the person being saluted. Saluting means one knows and respects the laws of the country, its hierarchies, and one’s place in a given hierarchy. But of course in Zimbabwe (or Africa in general) we have massively exaggerated personal egos leading to abuse of office and power.
As we see it, the salute is your prize for turning a blind eye to the generals’ professional conduct, or lack of it. If that be case then the change you promised remains just a dream.
If the salute means that the plans to reform the defence and police forces may be reversed then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means that the proposed overhaul by a board with independent and qualified members to be appointed to help bring professionalism and sanity to our forces is abandoned then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means none of the generals are held accountable for the abuse of power that saw many innocent Zimbabweans arrested, tortured, maimed, and killed then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means plans to ensure the forces serve the interests of the nation rather than those of political parties are discarded then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means justice for victims of last year's election-related violence will never be realised then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means that names of senior police and army officials responsible for the death of more than 200 MDC supporters are never revealed then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means past crimes by police and army officials are ignored and the culprits left free to continue abuse of office then we say NO to the salute. If the salute means that the Government turns a blind eye to Gono’s and Thomana’s sins present and past are forgiven and they remain in office then we say NO to the salute.
Sir, what you or your advisors might be failing to see is the fact that unless there is a complete overhaul of the country’s military and security leadership innocent people will continue to be abused and suffer. The starting point of restring law and order in Zimbabwe is by changing the heads at the military, security, and justice establishments. In the same way, if the Reserve Bank Governor’s and the Attorney General’s offices continue to be occupied by elements deeply tied to ZanuPF then real change is still a long way off. For that reason we feel you should not allow a mere salute ruin your vision. You can manage without the salute. Real change is what Zimbabwe need. And the best way to go about achieving that is not through tolerating misguided elements at the helm of the countries military, security, justice, and financial institutions. Please don’t let the salute fool you. These guys are dangerous and they need to be stopped before the country can start moving in the right direction. Please don’t become part of the rotten and corrupt leadership that has ruined the once beautiful Republic of Zimbabwe.
Fanuel Jasi. (UK).