Army threats: Mujuru spot on


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ZIMBABWE – The threats against former Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s People First (PF) project by the military are unjustified, unhelpful and misguided in a democracy to say the least. 

The continued attacks on civilian politicians by the military establishment only serves to identify Zimbabwe as a pariah state, which does not respect the rule of law.

Hence, the recent utterances by Commander of the Presidential Guard Brigadier General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe provocative, unfortunate and brazenly partisan, which does not qualify him to continue in his position. His statements were quite unfortunate and indicate Zimbabwe would plunge into a chaotic political situation if the army’s preferred candidate loses.

Our Constitution does not give Sanyatwe the right to utter such sentiments as his brief is to ensure the machinery in charge of the President’s security remains intact and functional.

We applaud Mujuru for calling Sanyatwe and like-minded military chiefs to order yesterday because they are clearly offside. If Sanyatwe or anybody else in the military is ambitious to become a Zanu PF apparatchik, they must simply remove their military fatigues and join civilian politics.

The fact that Sanyatwe and many other security chiefs before him could utter threats to annihilate Mujuru, her political outfit, MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai and all major opposition parties shows the great need to reform the military.

We believe the involvement of the military in civilian politics has laid bare the urgent need to overhaul the security agencies’ role in national politics.

There is no justification whatsoever to threaten civilians only because one wants to retain power at all costs using borrowed robes. The fact that the army has over the years seen it fit to use military might to coerce Zimbabweans to vote for their preferred candidate in President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF speaks volumes about their professional conduct and upholding the rule of law.

It is a fact that the threats to Mujuru are aimed at tilting the balance in Mugabe’s favour. No doubt because Mugabe is and has always been the sole beneficiary of the military’s involvement in civilian politics, he will not condemn the military behaviour.

Successive elections since 2000 have always been conducted under some kind of military rule. In 2002, then Zimbabwe Defence Force commander the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Prisons boss Major General Paradzai Zimondi and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri threatened war if Tsvangirai triumphed over Mugabe in Presidential elections.

The continued threats by military chiefs to opposition leaders show that Zimbabwe is not climatically suited to true democracy. And as the nation moves towards polls in 2018, fear of political violence is real.

Is it not strange that 35 years after independence, some old-school army institution believes it should use the gun to keep Mugabe and Zanu PF in power?

Our Constitution allows any Zimbabwean to form a political party and to have a go at the Presidency. All State institutions, including the army itself have an obligation to uphold the Constitution and respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe. Should citizens vote in favour of Mujuru that should be respected, regardless of the views of some army bosses, who believe their allegiance should be to an individual rather than the nation.

Mugabe has sworn to uphold the Constitution, whose sections 208, 211 and 218 define the security service include the defence forces, spelling out their mandate, which clearly does not include breathing fear into Zimbabweans harbouring Presidential ambitions.

The provisions call on the defence forces to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to civilians as established in the Constitution and prohibit serving security personnel from conducting themselves in a partisan manner.

It is time to stop Sanyatwe in his tracks. Infact, Sanyatwe should be made accountable for his treasonous pronouncements by his superiors.

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