By Nokutenda Mudzambi
RETIRED Brigadier-General Callisto Gwanetsa says the issue of armed robberies has to be addressed urgently since it now involves members of the uniformed forces.
The Zanu PF Member of Parliament for Chiredzi South further said the driving force to this latest spat of robberies involving trained military personnel could be poor remuneration and failure by the army to give soldiers what they were promised.
Gwanetsa, who is a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security, told the Business Times that the committee felt the issue of armed robberies has to be addressed urgently since it now involves members of the uniformed forces.
As such, Rtd Brigadier-General Gwanetsa wants security commanders to appear before the committee to explain to the Parliamentarians the issues the robberies which President Mnangagwa on Unity Day said were now a national security threat.
“This is a very topical issue, we have compiled all robbery incidents involving members of the security sector. I have been communicating with the Chairperson of the committee (Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome), and we intend to call in the commanders so that we get to understand what could be the motive,” said Rtd Brigadier-General Gwanetsa, a former 2 Brigade commander.
He added: “We know it is going to cause a lot of talk among parliamentarians and society as a whole, but we are saying we cannot just look and watch as things unfold like that and we will sit as a committee to try and find out what is going on and what could be the solution to that problem.
“The problem is very simple, it hinges on the financial aspect, it hinges on the fundamental issue of conditions of service the security personnel, that is what is driving them to do this but once we talk in terms of such issues, how best do we resolve it, do they get enough of what they have been promised,” he said.
Recently, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander, Lieutenant-General David Sigauke was challenged to resign over the indiscipline in the army which has seen numerous cases of soldiers using service rifles to rob and kill citizens across the country.
Armed robbers have been wreaking havoc across the country in the past few months with Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe recently telling a Zimbabwe Republic Police senior officers conference in Harare that the rise in cases of armed robberies was scaring away foreign investment in the country.
Reports indicate that apart from service rifles smuggled out of army barracks by rogue soldiers, Zimbabwe is flooded with unlicensed guns and some police officers were recently arrested for allegedly selling firearms to poachers and armed robbers.
Last Friday, ZNA Brigadier-General Augustine Chipwere issued a statement saying the army does not condone criminal behaviour by its officers and urged the public to report any of them involved in such.
“ZDF recognises and regrets the loss of innocent lives and deeply sympathises with bereaved families and communities. The ZDF will assist all bereaved families in accordance with the regulations relating to such incidents,” Brigadier-General Chipwere said.
“The ZDF would like to call on members of the public to report any ZDF member who behaves in a criminal manner or displays behavior that does not comply with the ZDF code of conduct, to the nearest cantonment area or to call the following numbers 024 2792661 and 071 2808007 so that corrective action can be taken quickly,” he said.