‘Restraint by security forces saved lives’

Greystone Mapondera
In the face of widespread media reports and commentary condemning the military and police responses to the violence unleashed on innocent citizens last week by some local and international bodies that claim to serve “human rights”, one story that has remained untold or conveniently ignored is the great restraint shown by the security forces in the face of extreme provocation and threat to life. This saved hundreds of lives.

Zimbabwe Republic Police officers, like any police officers in any part of the world, are trained to maintain law and order, a feat they have managed to achieve within and without the borders of Zimbabwe.

In performing this role they are required to maintain a delicate balance between soft and hard power with the latter only applied in dire situations when there is immediate threat to human and national security and in self-defence.

One such situation was on Monday 14 January, when the Movement for Democratic Change and its affiliates put into action a plan to destabilise Zimbabwe by deliberately attacking police stations, interrupting the public transport system in order to prevent citizens from going about their daily routines, destroying property and looting wares at various shopping centres in different parts of the country.

Police stations were attacked by the MDC Alliance-mobilised gangs and one police officer was stoned to death in Bulawayo while more than 30 were injured across the country. The police officers at such stations as Chitungwiza, Marondera and Bulawayo could have stood their ground and used hard power to repel the deliberate attacks which could have resulted in hundreds being killed and injured.

However, the police officers quickly appreciated that the intention was to force them to overreact and therefore did not open fire on the gangs that attacked and overran the police stations. In the face of such provocation and open attack of law enforcement officers and stations, it is inconceivable to imagine that such action would not have resulted in the police forces failing to open fire, if it were in the United States of America and many countries in the world.

The world has been shocked to see reports of police officers killing innocent black children for playing with a toy gun and unarmed innocent black citizens. However, what is most shocking is the deafening silence from the self-righteous international bodies on “human rights”. The question, which we all know the answer to, is that if innocent and unarmed people are killed at such alarming rates, how would such forces react when attacked by armed gangs?

Coming back to the commentary from the local and international bodies claiming to be concerned with “human rights”, it is a matter of public record that this has become a political weapon of choice for these organisations at the instigation of powerful states.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in illegal military operations not sanctioned by the United Nations but these organisations have turned a blind eye. In the case of Zimbabwe, the question that begs an answer is who are the real victims that deserve sympathy and support?

If one goes by the media reports from the privately owned media and the commentary from discredited politicians and these organisations, the people who killed an innocent policeman, stormed police stations, barricaded roads, destroyed and looted property are the victims while the law enforcement officers are the villains.

Are these the victims of the violence and the heroes we should celebrate as a nation?

History is replete with examples of such approaches where the media frames run contrary to the reality and it has proven beyond doubt that the people are not gullible. When liberation fighters were labelled terrorists, the people knew better and identified with their true heroes. The people of Zimbabwe know the people who barricaded roads, chased away their children from schools and left them stranded as their parents could not commute to come and pick them up and those people who destroyed the shops where they used to buy their daily needs. These people are not heroes, these people are not victims and this is why people are reporting these culprits to the police resulting in recovery of stolen property and arrests by the security forces.

The people of Zimbabwe stand together with the security forces who have moved swiftly to restore peace and stability after the MDC Alliance gangs attacks that threatened their human rights.

Source : The Herald

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