PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s declaration that the “politics shall lead the gun” will only be respected to a certain point beyond which is a “red line” which must never be crossed, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga has said.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Chiwenga told State media journalists on the eve of Defence Forces Day that the country’s security apparatus would never allow Zimbabwe to descend into the kind of chaos that has been witnessed in the Middle East.
“If people are discussing, this is a democratic country. They will say whatever they want to say, they can talk, but there is a red line which can never be crossed. When one causes the country to be in turmoil, when you become an enemy of the State and an enemy of the people and we will tell you, no, you are overstepping, that is not the correct way,” Chiwenga said.
Mugabe (93) told a Zanu PF women’s league meeting recently that there were secret meetings at which the military was involved in what he claimed could be characterised as a coup plot.
“There are secret manoeuvres going on. The military has no right to be interfering with the political processes. Theirs is to support; they can give their own views within the Constitution and according, also, to the principle that politics shall always lead the gun – and not the gun leading politics. That would be a coup,” Mugabe said then.
Mugabe was forced to call-out Chiwenga as well as other securocrats following a public spat between the Defence Forces chief and Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo as Zanu PF’s bitter succession struggles threatened to boil over.
There have been reports that Mugabe might be considering retiring Chiwenga.
But Chiwenga said relations between the belligerent military and political leaders was good.
“The relations (with politicians) are very good. We are very clear where we think things or a person is not saying the correct thing, we will tell (them). Because it is our role to make sure that nobody causes conflict which can then confuse people and make people fail to understand what is going on. Peace, stability and tranquillity,” Chiwenga said.
Senior politicians in Zanu PF are involved in a brutal scrap for Mugabe’s throne with the former liberation movement split between two distinct groups. Front-runner Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was allegedly poisoned and is reportedly battling for his life in a South African hospital.
Mnangagwa has support from veterans of the liberation struggle and sections of the security establishment. Another leading contender is Mugabe’s wife Grace, but the G40 faction has of late thrown another liberation war stalwart, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi’s name into the ring. Grace was charged with common assault in South Africa after bashing a woman she found in the company of her two sons.