THE Zimbabwe National Army is a professional force with impeccable integrity and will not fiddle in civilian politics, a top army official said yesterday. Slating reports attributed to him on alleged military threats to ousted former Vice-President Dr Joice Mujuru, the Commander of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guard, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe, denied ever making such inflammatory statements against the former VP. Brig-Gen Sanyatwe’s response comes in the wake of the People First’s statement at the weekend warning the military against making inflammatory statements that it claimed could spark civil unrest.
“Nothing of that sort was ever said,” said Brig-Gen Sanyatwe. “When, as military leaders, we address our officers, we operate within the strict confines of military rulebooks. It is not like we are at a rally. We do not address rallies.” A local weekly paper, The Zimbabwe Independent, reported last week quoting sources that Brig-Gen Sanyatwe, threatened to annihilate Dr Mujuru and her followers ahead of the 2018 election.
Brig-Gen Sanyatwe, according to the paper, is said to have made the statements while addressing about 500 officers of the Presidential Guard on September 2 at the Presidential Guard Barracks in Dzivarasekwa, Harare during his brief to mark the end of the year.
Acting on the alleged remarks, the People First, through its spokesperson, Mr Rugare Gumbo, condemned the utterances yesterday. Mr Gumbo said Brig Gen Sanyatwe’s statement could not go unchallenged.
“We were shocked to learn that such a senior officer in the army could publicly call for the annihilation of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her supporters just because of their legitimate political activities in search of a lasting solution to the challenges facing the country,” said Mr Gumbo.
He said the statement blatantly contravened Sections 208, 211 and 218 of the national constitution, which define the security service including the defence forces.
According to section 211 of the Constitution, Mr Gumbo said, “the defence forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to civilians as established in the Constitution.”
Mr Gumbo said it was surprising that their leader was a target of Brig Gen Sanyatwe’s alleged reckless and unconstitutional threats when she had not made any statement that could be regarded as subversive or that could be construed as posing any threat to national security.