Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday told Parliament only those in the military chain of command can be saluted by security forces, implying it was not mandatory for the security forces to salute Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and any other person not in that chain.
He was responding to a question by Gutu North MP Edmore Maramwidze, who wanted clarification on whether the utterances by Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba that the army would not salute any President without liberation war credentials were personal or the ministry’s policy.
“The statements by Nyikayaramba were personal views and do not reflect the Zimbabwe Defence Forces views because he is not the spokesperson of the army, but has constitutional rights to freedom of speech,” said Mnangagwa.
“The tradition of the army the world over is that subordinates salute superiors and the seniors salute in return and at the helm of the military is the President, who is the Commander of the Defence Forces, and below him is the Minister of Defence, followed by the Commander of the Defence Forces, and then followed by the service commanders of the National Army and the Airforce,” he said.
Mnangagwa said only those in the chain of command were eligible to be saluted and those outside that hierarchy were not eligible to be saluted by the armed forces and if they were saluted, it was “by mere luck”.
He refused to answer to a question on whether the military police would be asked to discipline Nyikayaramba because MDC-T MP for Chiredzi West Moses Mare had referred to the service chiefs as “stray dogs” and Mare had to withdraw the statement.
Meanwhile, while responding to whether the statements by the service chiefs contravened the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said the issue had become so divisive, but the military chiefs were aware of the laws that governed them in terms of the Constitution.
Tsvangirai also warned perpetrators of violence in Parliament, saying the Saturday incident was unfortunate and undermined the credibility of Zimbabwe.
He also said the genocide fugitives from Rwanda, including Potrais Mpiranya, and former Ethiopian President Mengistu Haile Mariam sought political asylum in Zimbabwe as stipulated by international conventions and no matter how people hated them, they could not be denied that right.