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Jitters over army hand in polls

by Staff reporter
16 Aug 2023 at 06:50hrs | Views
OPPOSITION parties and analysts yesterday condemned attempts by the ruling elite to politicise the country's military, with the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) promising to reform the army once elected into office.

The CCC said this yesterday as Zimbabwe commemorated the Defence Forces Day.

In a statement, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere acknowledged the important role played by the defence forces, but implored the uniformed forces to adhere to their constitutional mandate.

"The defence forces' 43 years of service have been undermined by partisan politics. We note with particular sadness the attempt to poison and politicise the defence forces for partisan purposes and repression," Mahere said.

The army has previously played a key role in favour of Zanu-PF during elections.

In 2002, then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, flanked by then Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander now Vice-President, Constantino Chiwenga, and other army commanders held a Press conference on the eve of the presidential election to make veiled coup threats if the late MDC founder and leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the polls.

Last year, the ruling Zanu-PF party bragged that it had the country's armed forces and war veterans on its side, raising fears that the security sector might be used to influence the outcome of next week's polls.

Already, a shadowy group, Heritage Trust, said to be a military intelligence outfit, is co-ordinating Zanu-PF campaigns with support from another ruling party affiliate group Forever Associates Zimbabwe, reportedly linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation.

"Under the incoming citizen government, weapons and arms of war will never be deployed to support a political party's partisan interests or impede the citizens' right to demonstrate peacefully," Mahere said.

"The professional standing of the defence forces will not be interfered with."

Zapu spokesperson Mso Ndlovu said the army should stay out of politics.

"For democracy to flourish, the army should protect the people and the country from internal and external threats without choosing who should lead the people," Ndlovu said.

Freedom Alliance secretary-general Nhlanhla Ncube said it was unconstitutional for the army to dabble in partisan politics.

"What adds salt to injury is the fact that the current government was installed by the military through the coup of November 2017, which has further mauled constitutionalism and democracy in the country," Ncube said.

Mthwakazi Republic Party leader Mqondisi Moyo expressed fear that soldiers may be deployed against citizens if there is no outright winner on August 23.

"People do not realise and always accuse Zanu-PF of rigging elections, but there are people who play a big role in intimidating the electorate and rigging elections, and they are the military," said Moyo.

Source - newsday
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