Soldiers, Police, Journalists Forced To Sign Mugabe's Anti-Sanctions Petition

In Harare state journalists have been forced to do the same.

Junior officers here have expressed disgruntlement after they were allegedly forced by their chefs to sign the petition under their supervision as the former liberation movement party continues to abuse members of the security forces politically.

Police officers from the province’s seven districts have been ferried to the provincial headquarters, Masvingo central police station, since Monday and forced to put their signatures on the petition that was launched by President Robert Mugabe a fortnight ago.

Investigations by Radio VOP after observing winding queues of junior officers outside the police headquarters since Monday revealed that Zanu (PF) had ordered the Police top brass to force all their subordinates to sign the petition to increase the number of signatures on the petition.

The same operation is also said to be going on in all army barracks in the country as junior soldiers are being forced to sign the petition under the watchful eyes of the generals who are loyal to President Mugabe’s party.

A Police officer who preferred anonymity said they received an order from their bosses and were also threatened with unspecified action if they refused to sign the petition.

“We had no choice but to sign because the order came from the bosses and they made it clear that those who refuse would be dealt with effectively although they did not specify the kind of action they will take. All police officers commanding the seven districts of Masvingo have been summoned to bring their juniors since Monday as you can see them in queues waiting for their chance to put their signatures,” he said.

He added that the exercise will be ending on Saturday as every district has its on day to report at the police headquarters.

A soldier at four brigade said they were told by their generals that any military men who refuse to sign would be confirming his sympathy for the Morgan Tsvangirai led Movement for Democratic Change and will be punished for that. He, however, said the situation was similar to that of elections were they are forced to vote for Zanu (PF) in front of their bosses in the military camps.

“We are always being abused by this party. They are forcing us to sign the petition just like they do during elections when they make us vote for Zanu (PF) in front of our generals who shower us with all kinds of threats including death and dismissal from work. Right now all soldiers from the army barracks in the province are reporting the headquarters where they are putting their signatures,” said a junior soldier who declined to be named.

Journalists and employees from state owned media houses were also this week forced to sign anti-sanctions campaign forms which are meant to push the United State and the European Union member countries to remove targetted sanctions on Mugabe and his close associates.

Mugabe was slapped with sanctions by the US and the EU after the violent 2002 presidential elections which was condenmed world wide. Mugabe then said sanctions or NO sanctions he will continue to rule over the country. But this year he made a u-turn with his party and embarked on the anti-sanctions campaign to push for the removal of the embargo.

The anti-sanctions campaign was snubbed by Tsvangirai and his senior government ministers and officials as well as the smaller formation of the MDC.

A reporter with the state-controlled Herald newspaper told Radio Vop that senior editors and managers in different departments announced on Monday that everyone under the Zimpapers stable, the parent company which owns state newspaper must append their signatures for sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies to be removed.

“Our editors told us on Monday that we must sign anti-sanctions campaign forms for the sanctions to be removed. The announcement was done in a soft way, they were saying it is voluntary but we know it is mandatory,” said the reporter.

The Herald reporter said journalists and staff at the state owned and sole country broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) were also forced to sign the forms. ZBH is the parent owner of the state-contolled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) which has two television stations and four radio stations under its management.

The state media has been accused of supporting Mugabe Zanu (PF) party and reporting propaganda and lies.

Herald assistant editor, Ceasar Zvayi, ZBC chief correpondent Reuben Barwe, diplomatic correspondent, Judith Makwanya and former ZBC reoporter Musorowegomo Mukosi are on the US sanctions list. The three are accused of fanning violence, hatred and churning lies in support of Zanu PF and Mugabe who are accused of human rights abuses.

The EU and US renewed sanctions on Mugabe and his top Zanu (PF) officials with another year saying they are yet to implement key reforms in the country for free and fair polls to be held.

Mugabe last year said he will not compromise in implementing key reforms in the inclusive government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. He said he will only accept to implement reforms once the sanctions are removed on him.

The EU said its policy on Mugabe and Zanu (PF) is planned by Brussels and the 27 member block will not be moved by the Zanu PF petition.