The rigorous vetting of youths aged above 16 years was accepted regardless of their educational qualifications. This laid foundation of political bias towards Zanu-PF party as some had Grade seven certificates, national identity and party card as gateway pass to employment.
On Tuesday afternoon these youths had a mock marathon training in Karoi town. For Jairos Mateka, not his real name, a former headmaster in Hurungwe who retired in 2008 and is still yet to get his pension, he was left bitter on ‘’overzealous recruitment of the army’’ by war vets.
‘’Whoever approved this recruitment drive has no pensioners at heart. This is uncalled for because we do not want soldiers recruited at party level, they must be professional’’ he says.
Hundreds of former civil workers are battling to get their pension. The recent move proved to be an own goal politically as Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai senior member in Karoi, Big Haurobi says.
‘’Zanu-PF and the war veterans scored an own goal as they never achieved anything at all after hundreds were turned away at Magunje barracks on Tuesday as they had no required qualifications. This put the army into disrepute as a political organ. It is another political suicide’’, says Haurobi who witnessed the involvement of the war veterans here.
A Karoi businessman who supports Zanu-PF but declined to be named says the move has boosted Zanu-PF support base ahead of possible elections.
‘’Zanu PF is assured of votes come election time. It is a revolutionary party that want the youths to be employed’’ he says.
However, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo denies that the move is the party.
‘’Recruits will do anything to get employement and by approaching war veterans and Zanu-PF they think these organisations have some influence but it is not party policy to assist aspiring soldiers at all,” Gumbo tells Radio VOP.
But Harare based commentator Hopewell Gumbo said that the move is uncalled for.
“The Government must use available resources to guarantee national security but it is unfortunate that one political party that has strong links with army attempts to influence recruitment policy of state security institution. Soldiers are there to protect national sovereignity, not political expedience”, says Gumbo in written response.
He further says Zanu-PF aligned war vets would like to use the young recruits to “fortify their fading prospects in any future political battle”
But Jabulani Sibanda the national leader of the war veterans defends the move by local war veterans here saying it is every citizen’s duty to defend the country.
‘’It is everyone’s responsibility to defend the country and inform aspiring soldiers ,the war vets are playing their role. Even churches and other organisations must assist’’ says Sibanda in a telephone interview from Bulawayo.
Some aspiring soldiers are nursing wounds after they were disqualified but the damage on their recruitment has been done as it has remained one of the outstanding issues under Global Political Agreement to reform the security sector that includes army, police and prisons.
The top brasses have vowed not to salute anyone without war credentials. There was no immediate comment from army officials on the latest involvement of war veterans, but will their hijacking national of instutitions like the army not compromise the national security, one wonders.