Lovemore Chikova in VICTORIA FALLS
SENIOR Zanu-PF officials fighting for top posts at the party’s elective National People’s Congress in December must stop dragging everyone in their smear campaigns, including Zimbabwe Defence Forces commanders, ZDF commander General Constantine Chiwenga has said.
Speaking in an interview after officially opening a ZDF health conference here yesterday, Gen Chiwenga said while the army was not prone to intervening in the party’s internal politics, there was no way it could be wished away.
“What you have got to understand (is that) some people vavakuda zvigaro, akachishaya anombozama kumaramara, achipotsera madhaka uku, achipotsera kuti zviite, hazvishande (they try to smear everyone, but this does not work).
“Go out there (and campaign). You can’t wish us away because we brought independence asi takasiya zvakadaro. This is the only country in the world where you have never seen military intervention, interfering with civilian rule.”
Gen Chiwenga said the infighting in Zanu-PF was a passing phase.
“Iyezvi tiripano apa muri kutotibvunza isu tiri kuLesotho uko ndiko kwatinomhanyira kunogadzirisa the same people vakaita saivava vanotaura kuti isusu dai tatanga, ndabvisirwei dai ndaramba ndiripo (We are trying to solve the Lesotho crisis caused by infighting),” he said.
“Tingaenda kunogadzisira vamwe isu tichiita the same thing muno umu? (How can we solve other people’s problems when we are doing the same?) So, zvinopfuura, this is just a matter of time.”
Zimbabwe, as Sadc chair, will lead a one-day summit on Wednesday in South Africa convened to solve the Lesotho crisis sparked by an attempted coup in the past few weeks.
Gen Chiwenga castigated some sections of the Press, which attempted to play the army against Zanu-PF by insinuating that it was involved in party power struggles.
“First of all, we don’t play around (with) what comes out in the Press. Remember you are doing a job which you must make sure that your paper gets saleable and sometimes getting saleable in a wrong way.
“Zimbabwe is a country which is ours. You, as you are asking me, you are not Alpha and Omega, you must leave and bequeath Zimbabwe which is healthy to the next generation.”
Gen Chiwenga said the fact that ZDF members brought independence did not mean that they should get involved in petty power struggles.
He said Zimbabwe was more important to the army than individuals.
“Ours is to defend Zimbabwe, its people, its wealth, the independence and her national interest,” said Gen Chiwenga.
“People often make a mistake, you can’t take it away from us that we brought independence to the country, but that does not make us get involved in these minor issues.
“We have a lot to deal with, you know issues which threaten Zimbabwe and we have made it very clear, only if Zimbabwe is being threatened then we will come in. If anybody threatens Zimbabwe externally we will deal with that situation.
“So, where people try to drag in and bring us in, that game we know it very well. That’s how we liberated the country. Even when we were liberating the country, we were being told by some papers when they (Ian Smith regime) killed innocent people they would say they were assisting terrorists. We are the same terrorists, isn’t it?”
Gen Chiwenga said they were bound to defend what thousands of liberation war fighters died for.
“The country comes first. Those souls we left out there, we who are here we are very few, thousands of our colleagues perished and all we do is to defend what they died for.”
Infighting within Zanu-PF intensified in the last few months as party bigwigs attempted to position themselves for posts at the December elective congress.
The fights intensified during the Youth League and the Women’s League conferences last month where some senior party officials were implicated in vote-buying and manipulation of voters.