Army, police in massive recruitment

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The MDC-T yesterday claimed the Zimbabwe National Army has embarked on a massive recruitment drive targeting mostly unqualified Zanu PF activists amid fears of plans to rope in the army in its violent election campaign.

National police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena recently told NewsDay the police had intensified their recruitment programme, but denied the exercise was in preparation for the forthcoming general elections.

This comes at a time Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa is visiting Iran where he is expected to explore possible ways of strengthening military cooperation between the two countries.

The MDC-T said the army conscription exercise targeted unqualified Zanu PF youths previously accused of unleashing violence on opposition party supporters.

The MDC is further disturbed by reports that the army is recruiting and training unqualified Zanu PF youths on a massive scale across the country.

The MDC is alarmed bearing in mind that the army was willingly used in 2008 to perpetrate violence against innocent civilians seen to be advancing democratic values in Zimbabwe, the MDC-T said in a statement.

The electorate will be well within its rights to question the strengthening of the army at a time when thousands are facing starvation in the country and when Zimbabwe is not at war with any country.

It is clear that Zanu PF is panicking and wants to use the army to stop the smooth transfer of power when it is defeated in the next watershed elections when they are held.

We, therefore, call upon the inclusive government to pressure President Robert Mugabe and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to desist from unnecessary wastage of resources in their quest of expanding a partisan army.

During past elections, the MDC-T has complained against the army saying it was unleashing violence on the people perceived to be MDC-T supporters.
Senior army officials yesterday declined to comment on the matter, preferring to respond to written questions, but had not done so by the time of going to print.

The MDC-T also accused Mugabe of continuing to unilaterally make military promotions without the consent of his counterparts in the shaky government.

Under the Global Political Agreement, Mugabe is expected to consult Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara (MDC) before making senior government appointments, including in the army.

Mugabe in February labelled Tsvangirai and Mutambara toothless barking bulldogs in an interview to mark his 88th birthday reportedly because they did not participate in the war of liberation.

This week Mugabe unilaterally promoted eight army colonels, 47 lieutenant colonels and airforce senior officers.

In this regard, these promotions smack of an intention by Mugabe and Zanu PF to further seek a patronage system as was the case with Douglas Nyikayaramba, the MDC-T said.

The promotion of Nyikayaramba to the position of major -general was a reward for issuing treasonous and unconstitutional statements only suitable for seizing and undermining civilian authority in Zimbabwe.

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