The Sunday Mail
Dr Masimba Mavaza
Deploying former military officers to government is not peculiar to Zimbabwe. Governments around the globe have quite a number of them in their rank and file.
Ex-army members cannot be wished away in politics. They are not monsters, but citizens who sacrificed a lot for the good of their nations. They cannot be discriminated against politically just because they are soldiers. No. In fact, politics cannot be stable without them. No country in the world exists without soldiers being part of the political architecture.
The British House of Commons has 56 ex-military men and women, while the United States Congress has seen the number leap to 108.
If truth be told, politicians with a military background are more disciplined than their civilian peers. The army functions by command and this, in turn, incarnates discipline in troopers. This discipline, punctuated by considered thought and measured action, grows in one throughout the rest of their lives.
That sense of service to one’s country and “doing things for the masses” sticks with a true soldier, never dissipating. In short, the soldier gets the job done. Pity the opposition in Zimbabwe fails to appreciate such basic facts and wants the world to believe that “a military regime” is running this African nation.
Such posturing not only smacks of ignorance, but downright knowledge deficiency, particularly regarding global affairs. Being military is being political and dropping into mainstream politics is simply switching into a different phase of politics.
That’s an undeniable fact the opposition should wrap their heads around instead of brandishing crude diction that tells of something amiss in Zimbabwe. Former British Army Lieutenant Ian Duncan Smith would have been looked at patronisingly had he been Zimbabwean and thrust into our Government.
But guess what? He is former Conservative Party leader and spokesman for Brexit. In 1971, the US military service was at its peak and veterans made up 72 percent of members in the Congressional House and 78 percent in Senate.
In 1981, that figure dipped to 64 percent, but veterans still made up the majority in Congress.Many American presidents also served in the military. George Washington was a non-military officer (he was a militia officer when the British still ruled the original 13 states).
Theodore Roosevelt was an army officer in the Spanish-American War and the only president to receive the Medal of Honour. Harry Truman served as an army reserve officer in World War One, commanded an artillery unit in France and saw combat, while Dwight Eisenhower was supreme allied commander in Europe during World War Two.
John F. Kennedy served in the navy during WWII, and Richard Nixon was a logistics officer in the Pacific in the same war. A navy officer, Jimmy Carter served during WWII and stateside in the Korean War.
Ronald Reagan was a reserve officer during WWII, serving stateside, while George HW Bush served as a reserve officer, seeing combat as a pilot in the Pacific. On the other hand, George W. Bush was with the Air National Guard (Texas) and served during the Vietnam War.
It is, therefore, not out of this world for Zimbabwe to allow soldiers to hold public positions. The opposition embarrassed itself by rushing to America to demonise the Zimbabwe Government, calling it a military regime. America has been under military leaders from its creation to recent times.
One should understand that while politics leads the gun, politics needs the gun for its own security and survival. There is nothing amiss with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointments.
Zimbabwe has not erred in giving its soldiers a chance to put their disciplinary training into practice. The country remains committed to democracy; and in any case, military simply means order and restoration.