DEFENCE Minister Sydney Sekeramayi has warned local clothing sellers they risk prosecution if they continue trading in military replica attire but said popular musician Jah Prayzah was allowed to perform in military gear.
He was speaking in the Senate while responding to a question by Zanu PF Senator Tapera Machingaifa on Thursday.
The legislator had asked if those found wearing or selling clothing with camouflage design would be prosecuted.
In his response, Sekeramayi reiterated that it was illegal for locals to put on army regalia which he said was being abused by criminals to commit crimes while impersonating serving soldiers.
The minister said victims of crimes such as rape, murder, armed robbery and forms of corruption were blaming their unfortunate experiences on the military.
“That is why, we are saying, it is illegal for anybody to wear military regalia or anything camouflage,” Sekeramayi said.
“Now, this is a directive to shop owners and retailers that it is illegal to sell this type of regalia. This should also serve as a warning to civilians that it is illegal for you to wear fashionable look alike military regalia.
“We do not want to end up prosecuting people unnecessarily. Hence, I am pleading with Honourable Senators and Members of Parliament to go and advise shop owners, retailers and hawkers in your respective constituencies to stop selling fashionable look alike military regalia because it is illegal.
“So, people who continue putting on such attire should stand warned that it is illegal and whosoever is found in future to be abrogating this law may find themselves being arrested and prosecuted. Putting on military attire, fatigue or camouflage is illegal.”
Further asked by Lilian Timveos if musical performers such Jah Prayzah were permitted to don the attire, Sekeramayi said the popular musician had been exempted from the ban only when on stage.
“We are saying, members of the Jah Prayzah musical group are known even their physique and sizes are well known by the military,” he said.
“As of now, they were given permission to wear that uniform as long as they are performing on stage. We are yet to hear of members of the group abusing the facility.
“Let me warn civilians that should we find copy cats who are emulating Jah Prayzah and his band – we will get a way of resolving that problem.
“We know there are people who, when they see Jah Prayzah performing, become overzealous because he is a real entertainer and man of the moment, hence he has authority to wear that uniform. He was also declared Zimbabwe’s military ambassador.”
Since last year, the country has witnessed an increase in fashion designed in camouflage colours.
The army has responded harshly to individuals spotted wearing military designs with some often ordered to remove the attire in public.