VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday introduced Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Constantine Chiwenga as Zanu PF’s “political commissar”, effectively confirming reports that the defence supremo was actively involved in the ruling party’s politics and propping up its waning support base using military resources. By Blessed Mhlanga/Everson Mushava
Mnangagwa made the remarks in Zibagwe-Chirumanzu constituency as he introduced guests who accompanied President Robert Mugabe to drum up support for the VP’s wife Auxilia Mnangagwa ahead of the March 27 by-election.
“The person I want you to meet is our commissar. Do you know Chiwengwa? He is the one who brought all the helicopters which you saw here today. Stand up Chiwengwa so that people can see you,” Mnangagwa said.
Zanu PF’s official national political commissar is Saviour Kasukuwere.
Chiwengwa briefly stood up and only gestured in the form of a salute to Zanu PF supporters before Mnangagwa came to his rescue saying the ZDF chief was not at liberty to chant the party slogan as he was in army uniform.
“He can’t openly chant our party slogan because he is putting on army uniform, but he is our commissar,” Mnangagwa said.
The Constitution bars uniformed forces from dabbling in active party politics, but since the birth of the MDC in 1999, top securocrats have openly declared their allegiance to Zanu PF and vowed not to recognise any presidential election winner without liberation war credentials.
In 2012, Chiwengwa publicly dipped his fingers into the ruling party’s contentious succession politics when he declared Mnangagwa as Mugabe’s heir apparent.
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But it is Mnangagwa’s latest admission that has vindicated accusations by the opposition parties that the army has always been behind Zanu PF’s intimidatory campaigns especially during elections.