Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday warned Zimbabwe’s security forces against their continued meddling in politics and threatened his party would not participate in an election if this did not stop.
The MDC-T leader said he was aware of the hidden agenda behind the army’s decision to recruit soldiers from rural areas without the requisite academic and other qualifications.
“We know why this is being done. It is being done to undermine free and fair elections. It’s not an election, it’s a war and we will not be part of that war. They will go it alone” said Tsvangirai, who was addressing members of civic society who had just presented their submissions to political
parties on the political and social developments in the country.
Tsvangirai said he would not engage in petty squabbles with individuals like Major-General Martin Chedondo, who recently said the army had waived academic and other requirements in the recruitment of soldiers.
“They (generals) are serving members and we would hope their fundamental principle is to uphold the Constitution and serve the people of Zimbabwe. It’s an extension of unprofessionalism to start engaging in a fight. All their speeches are unprofessional,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s service chiefs are on record declaring their allegiance to Zanu PF and vowing they would not accept anyone without liberation war credentials to rule the country.
Recently, Chedondo reiterated that position when he spoke about the army putting aside recruitment requirements and also that the military would be conscripting soldiers from villages.
Zimbabwe National Army Chief of Staff (Administration) Major-General Trust Mugoba was yesterday also quoted in the State media warning that the army would not allow politicians to “reverse the gains of the liberation struggle”.
He said: “As the military, we do not only believe, but act in defence of these values and we will not respect any leader who does not respect the revolution. We will not even allow them to go into office because they do not represent the ideology we fought for.
“As the military establishment, we have an ideology that is represented in the mission of Zanu PF.”
Tsvangirai said there were three critical issues that could not be compromised on and these included security of vote, security of person and security of the people’s electoral choice. He said those who undermined these issues would be subverting the will of the people.
Tsvangirai said devolution was one of the major sticking points in the ongoing constitution-making process and said his party (MDC-T) would fight to make sure it was put in place either by way of constitution or parliamentary legislation.
“Devolution is one of the sticking points and maybe the only. We are not the only country to devolve power. I was in Austria which is no bigger than Chivhu or Gutu. It’s a small country. We will have devolution, we may differ on mechanism, but we will find a way through a constitution or a legislative process,” he said.
In their submission, civic society groups voiced their concern at what they said was the slow pace in the constitution-making process.
“On the constitution, civil society notes with concern that this process has dragged on for too long and calls upon the political parties and leadership involved to bring finality to this matter,” read part of the submission.
They called for the repeal of laws that include the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Public Order and Security Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and the Broadcasting Services Act.
“Civil society rejects the call for elections in an environment of fear and uncertainty. The people of Zimbabwe can only exercise their democratic right to elect a leadership of their choice in a violence-free environment,” they said.