The tag-of war between the Zimbabwean military and President Robert Mugabe has been celebrated across continents. But as a human rights defender, I don’t support military governments, and I will not support the military government in any country including Zimbabwe. Harare Mambo Band’s song, “Mbuya Nehanda” provides the rationale for the military takeover: “If you want self-rule, pick up the gun and rule,” the song argues. Under Mugabe, this song is part of the ZANU-PF revolution, the very revolution Gen Constantino Chiwenga seeks to perpetuate.

I personally opposed Mugabe’s brutality between 1998 and 2001, long before many Zimbabwean clergy did so. I was harassed, put under house arrest and finger printed by Mugabe’s infamous CIOs, and later forced out of Zimbabwe. I also witnessed people’s buttocks sliced like bread by General the military.

Yet I would not endorse taking Mugabe out with a bullet. The truth is, without the military, dictatorship falls. Mugabe would have been replaced many years ago if Chiwenga and his colleagues did not intimidate the electorate or rig the elections in his favor!

It is clear the military “stepped in” because Mugabe expelled one of Gen. Chiwenga’s partner in crime—it has nothing to do with the suffering of Zimbabweans. I fully understand and sympathize with the untold and dehumanizing suffering Zimbabweans have endured at the hands of the military sanctioned dictatorship. The collapse of the economy and the health care system, the chaotic land distribution program and its effect on food security; the untold levels of unemployment and extreme poverty turned the once admired nation into a ghetto. With military help, Mugabe grabbed farms, killed opposition supporters and exiled more than 6 million people. With military help, Mugabe rigged elections. This explains the excitement his downfall brings.

It seems that Africa and the world have developed amnesia on African military governments. In 2000, General Paul Kagame took power in Rwanda. He was a highly celebrated war hero by Westerners and Africans alike following the genocide. Today, he is posed to be in power until 2036. To many Rwandans, Kagame is Idi Amin incarnate – extrajudicial killings, corruption, rampant human rights abuses, ethnic persecution, and nepotism characterize Kagame’s devilish regime. As for independent journalists, they rot in prison.

Ugandans celebrated General Idi Amini when he forcedly took power in 1971—but only for a short period. The very people, who danced as Amini paraded and killed his opponents, are the very ones who became victims of his brutal rule. Initially the West supported Amin, and he became the very devil they created. We all know how it ended—Ugandan President for life died in exile.
In 1986, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni forcefully took power. He was celebrated and admired by the West, but his rule has been characterized with corruption, rampant human rights abuses, political persecution, and nepotism. Ugandans want him gone, but he is now the election rigging General—ask any Ugandan.

In 1997, General Laurent Kabila was celebrated as a revolutionary leader after he overthrew another Congolese dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko Koko Ngbendu Wa Za Banga, who forcefully came to power in 1965. A beloved of the West, Mubotu was a vicious lion to his people. He promised to introduce democracy – but ruined his mineral rich nation and killed millions.

As for Gen. Kabila, he renamed the nation the Democratic Republic of Congo—but ruled as a tyrant. After his assignation in 2001, his son, General Joseph Kabila took power – he is still the president of the DRC. But democratic elections must wait, while ordinary people continue to die like grasshoppers.

I can go on and one, but the point is clear – the solution to Zimbabwe is not the military but democracy and the rule of law. Mugabe’s brutal rule was sustained by his military generals, among them, Chiwenga. Since independence, Zimbabwe has been a police state—Mugabe and his generals have had it all – they have killed at will.

The military solution will only disempower the country to forge its own democratic future. The installation of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president only extends the dictatorship. Mnangagwa may be loved by the military but he was responsible for Gukurahundi killings “under Mugabe’s explicit orders”.

It is time we realized that dictatorship rides on the military, while democracy rides on the people! It is time Zimbabwe understood the power of the ballot over the bullet. As long as bullets are glorified over bullets, Zimbabwe will remain a dictatorship.

Rev. Kapya Kaoma

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22 COMMENTS

    • Good article from preacher.
      Unfortunately Zimbabweans still believe in Independence war vets. War veterans are millitary. Munangagwa is one them.
      So Rev. Kaoma is supporting ihule Grace. A sinner worse than Mary Magdalene. How could you prefer Magdalene to be leader over Peter who drew a sword?

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    • What the reverend had written applies to Zambia as well. Respect for democracy and the rule of law is the only solution. Unfortunately, Edgar and his friends have other ideas.

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  1. It’s game over for Mugabe , Zimbabweans are celebrating independence….those of kaponyas praising mugabe and hoping for lungu to emulate Mugabe take note…..

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  2. democracy is good it must go with love, respect human dignity susidiarity and soridality. politicians learn to love and forgive. In zambian politics is all about insults and name calling. wheather pf or upnd you the same. you are all from UINP and MMD. you have same colour in your hearts. respect Democracy and its rules of the game. for now its PF and the future may be UPND all other parties. welove you all us Human being created in the image of God

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  3. What Zimbabwe needs at this point in time is a vibrant opposition, as an alternative. I see none, whatsoever.

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  4. Often times you say: “Your comment is awaiting moderation,” and that becomes the end of story. The suggested moderation is never effected. Is that not a suppression of the freedom of expression?

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  5. I lived in Zimbabwe during that country’s formative years, shortly following their independence in 1980. Zimbabwe could easily have become one of the few natural democracies in Africa. At independence, in 1980, the country already had two strong parties – ZANU-PF and ZAPU, essential to any democracy. Sadly, tribal interests got in the way. Those senseless military campaigns in Matebeleland shortly following the country’s independence was the undoing of Zimbabwe. What the world has witnessed there since then, are the long-term effects of that heartless annihilation of the Matebele people. Sad to say, the losers happen to be not just the Ndebele. The Shonas themselves have bled just as much.

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  6. The military is no solution! Most countries who have had military take over have been ruined for good. It is sad that Southern Africa has to experience this. I know that supporters of Hazaluza Hagain may be holding the remote button, somehow, somewhere. That is why it said it is a wake up call.

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  7. It had to end this way for a sekuru who was clinging on to power even when he was so frail for so long. Let’s hope he enjoys his forced retirement.

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  8. It depends on how professional your military is. Have you heard of any killings or brutality on innocent civilians? If this had happened elsewhere we would have heard the worst! Bravo to the ZDF for showing Africa the role of the military! You have saved Zim from falling from Grace!

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  9. The sacked vice president, the army general and Mugabe are almost of the same ages, surely Zimbabwe deserves a young and energetic leader not the war veterans.

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  10. It seems as if those veterans are not tired yet , they want to finish their revolution no younger person to be accepted yet it will take another twenty years to see the young blood .
    In Zambia it has taken fifty years to see the Lungus and the crafty HH take centre stage and they are not doing any better than the old folks like Sata.

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  11. The article is well articulated. Thanks Rev. But some times when people yet for change, any change is good for them. The problem in Africa is that we may talk about constitutional means but sometimes the constitutional means are very “unconstitutional” to the people while the unconstitutional means seems the most “constitutional” things to do. What do you do when the so called constitution is perpetuating your suffering and the unconstitutional means can end it.

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  12. Is Zimbabwe a Zanu pf property, why depose Mugabe and replace him with another Zanu Pf Mnangwangwa? this is like General Paul Mihova chasing Lungu and imposing Davies mwila on the presidency with no regard to HH, CK, Nawakwi etc.

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