MDC challenges Chiwenga – stick to the barracks


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The Movement for Democratic Change has challenged Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga over his statement that the army does not interfere in civilian life saying nothing could be further from the truth.

Chiwenga said Zimbabwe was the only country in the world where you have never seen military intervention, interfering with civilian rule.

“Our only problem with General Chiwenga’s statement is that our experience of the soldiers under his command is in fact a completely different story,” the MDC said in a statement.

“The army has been involved in the violence against MDC supporters and the onslaught on innocent civilians suspected to belong to the MDC. We have witnessed the militarization of state institutions and entities against the dictates of national Constitution. Only in the last election, the country ran an election that was heavily militarised and which the people’s will was subverted.”

It went on: “While we appreciate the statement from General Chiwenga, we hope the army will stick to the Constitutional position that makes them a non-partisan institution that does not meddle in political and other civilian affairs. That is the legitimate position that has support of the national charter.”

Full statement:

Monday, 15 September 2014
Soldiers must always act constitutionally

The commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga has today said soldiers do not meddle in political and civilian issues.

This is all well and good and is not only Constitutional but is in fact the position in many jurisdictions in the SADC region. The soldiers must stay in the barracks, defending the country and its people and must stay away from politics.

Our only problem with General Chiwenga’s statement is that our experience of the soldiers under his command is in fact a completely different story. He says this is the only country in the world where the army does not interfere with civilian issues but for us, nothing could be further from the truth.

The army has been involved in the violence against MDC supporters and the onslaught on innocent civilians suspected to belong to the MDC. We have witnessed the militarization of state institutions and entities against the dictates of national Constitution. Only in the last election, the country ran an election that was heavily militarised and which the people’s will was subverted.

In his address to thousands of people who gathered at the MDC anniversary celebrations in Masvingo at the weekend, President Tsvangirai made reference to rogue soldiers who attacked civilians at Mupandawana in Gutu, prompting chief Gutu to lead a delegation of traditional leaders to the army superiors in Harare.

The President said the MDC had nothing against the army; we respect all State institutions because we know they have a Constitutional obligation to protect the people and not to harm them.

President Tsvangirai said the MDC is aware that our army is professional, except a small clique that has become prisoner to the politics of patronage. We know the majority of them are suffering like all of us and they want change, except the few renegade elements that have been allowed to needlessly militarize and poison innocent State entities and independent bodies such as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

While we appreciate the statement from general Chiwenga, we hope the army will stick to the Constitutional position that makes them a non-partisan institution that does not meddle in political and other civilian affairs. That is the legitimate position that has support of the national charter.

(138 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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