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Zanu PF wants the army to campaign for it

By Richard Chidza

HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party wants the army to campaign for it in the forthcoming elections, in a situation that has sent serious jitters among Zimbabwe’s political players.

The head of Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Happyton Bonyongwe, left, with Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwean Army, centre, with Mugabe
The head of Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Happyton Bonyongwe, left, with Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwean Army, centre, with Mugabe

Although Defence spokesperson Overson Mugwisi yesterday declined to comment on the issue, saying the army will always be apolitical, the exmajority party has made new demands for a constitutional clause allowing the uniformed forces to dabble in politics.

Apart from revelations by Constitutional Select Committee (Copac) co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora that the party was pushing for the army’s direct involvement in politics, among a raft of 225 new demands, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa has confirmed the issue.

“In as much as l do not know much about what is going on at Copac, personally l do not have a problem with the military choosing to campaign for a party of their choice. It is common knowledge that trade unions (ZCTU) campaign for the MDC and should we then say they should not do that. These people fought with us during the liberation struggle, so why should we discriminate against them. We cannot stop them from campaigning,” Mutasa said.

Ever since Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai appeared on Zimbabwe’s political scene, the country’s belligerent security leaders, including the late Vitalis Zvinavashe, Augustine Chihuri and Constantine Chiwenga, have openly shown their support for Zanu PF and its octogenarian leader.

Earlier, Mwonzora had told a Harare press conference after a mainstream Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national executive committee meeting, that: “The 200 new issues… are from Zanu PF. The party brought a 29-page document, which had 225 new issues, among them, that the army openly campaigns for them and against other parties.”

“Most of the issues are not even remotely connected to the views of the people gathered during the outreach programme. In as much as we agree that there is need for a lot of negotiation in the constitution-making process, the MDC has always said any negotiation should be on issues related to the views of the people,” Mwonzora said.

Mwonzora blamed this latest crisis on a clique in Zanu PF which was not only bent on derailing the constitution-making process, but also seeks “to set the army against the MDC and people”.

“We are aware of a group within Zanu PF… seeking to set up the party against the army. Since our formation, the MDC has never taken a stance to fight the military and we will not do that. Our fight is not against the army, but institutions and individuals who are against the emancipation of our people,” he said.

“The MDC will fight those who seek to subvert the will of the people. The party does not seek to persecute any law abiding citizens, including those in the military when it comes to power,” said Mwonzora.

In addition to their 2002 “straight jacket” statement where they vowed never to salute anyone without liberation war credentials — in remarks aimed at the mainstream MDC leader — the country’s security forces have been fingered in many of Mugabe’s bloody and disputed elections since the turn of the millennium.

In particular, they allegedly declined to accept the President’s defeat by Tsvangirai in the March 2008 elections, which led to a one-man run-off that was widely condemned by the international community.

In that bloody episode, about 300 MDC members perished — in moves reminiscent of the 80s massacre of the mainly Matabeleland-based civilians and those aligned to the late Joshua Nkomo’s Zapu.

Last year, then Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba caused serious consternation in government after describing Tsvangirai as a national security threat and that he would never rule the country. Although the MDC leader kept his cool and only protested to Mugabe, the latter went on to promote Nyikayaramba to the rank of full general.

The latest developments also come as Zimbabwe’s key civil sector players have always fingered Chiwenga’s men in Zanu PF’s election chicanery — an issue given credence by the secondment of Air Vice Marshall Henry Muchena and former Central Intelligence Organisation director Sydney Nyanungo to the party. Daily News

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