Service chiefs a security threat — PM
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai Friday said army personnel and service chiefs were threatening the security of the country by acting “shamefully”, declaring they would not respect the will of the people if anybody other than President Robert Mugabe was voted to rule Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai was addressing delegates at the launch of the Panel of Zimbabwe Elders Fridaywhen he said statements by the security chiefs and senior members of the army posed a security threat to the country.
The Panel of Elders is a group of eminent Zimbabweans from different backgrounds who have come together to work towards a violence-free Zimbabwe by engaging stakeholders.
Its interim leader is Professor Gordon Chavunduka. Others on the panel include Professor Phenias Makhurane, Chief Mtekedza from Chivhu, Chief Ndanga (Masvingo), Father Fidelis Mukonori, Bishop Sebastian Bakare, Ruth Mpisaunga (consultant), Margaret Rukuni, former Cabinet minister Fay Chung, Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa and Luke Chipunza.
“We cannot have peace unless all these issues have been dealt with,” Tsvangirai said.
“Statements by service chiefs that they will not respect the expression of the people’s will, as well as statements in the Press today (yesterday) in which a senior army officer is trying to determine the date of the election, only serve to confirm the uniqueness of our situation and the importance of vaccinating State organs from acting like political entities.
“Unnecessary election talk leads to dysfunctionality and polarity in the country. It polarises Cabinet, Parliament and the security sector and leads to unilateral actions and selective application of the law.”
Tsvangirai’s statements come in the wake of reported utterances by Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba in a local weekly yesterday proclaiming that President Mugabe should rule Zimbabwe until he dies and declaring he and other security chiefs would never salute Tsvangirai.
Nyikayaramba joins the chorus of security chiefs who have vowed not to recognise any leader without liberation war credentials, in apparent reference to Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai hit back saying such statements were a threat to democracy and the security of the country.
“We all want a new era in this country; where knives, machetes, knobkerries, guns and booted feet as instruments of violence and repression are no longer fashionable,” he said.
Tsvangirai said he was surprised President Mugabe was absent from the Zimbabwe Elders promoting peace and urged him to join the group as he qualified.
“I questioned myself what the age limit in this panel is,” he said. “I see there is someone who is conspicuous by his absence. It’s none other than President Mugabe. It is a serious omission and you should extend an invitation to him,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai warned that reckless election talk would slide the country back to the 2008 violence and chaos.
“As a country, we have been forced to walk the painful road of violence and hatred and we are not prepared to walk it again. We have lost relatives, houses and property. We have State agents actively engaging in shameful acts of violence and unbridled violation of the people’s rights and freedoms,” he said.
“But we refuse to be cowed and to be distracted from the urgent national assignment of fighting for democratic change in Zimbabwe.Our current situation is being compounded by the war psychosis — the constant reference to Chimurenga and the war language associated with it puts the country into an unnecessary war mode,” he said.