Chiwenga rant sparks outrage
Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Constantino Chiwenga has been roundly attacked over his public rebuke of President Robert Mugabe and his administration over instability in Zanu PF.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/BLESSED MHLANGA
Chiwenga in an angry rant on Monday warned Mugabe that the military would not hesitate to “step-in” and restore order if the ongoing internal power struggles in Zanu PF were not stopped.
Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga said Chiwenga had no business in civilian affairs.
“Chiwenga has no business in internal party affairs. It is unconstitutional and a violation of international law. The army should confine itself to the barracks. There is a huge risk that Zimbabwe could descend into chaos. We would want the army to step back, any interference will take Zimbabwe to the brink,” Mavhinga said, adding it was, however, unclear if Mugabe would be able to resolve his succession conundrum.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said while the situation was delicate, the party hoped the army would remain disciplined.
“The situation is, of course, very delicate at the moment. However, the Zimbabwe military is a very disciplined force. We can safely state that they will not allow the country to degenerate into chaos and anarchy. Remember, most of those top army commanders are veterans of the liberation struggle. We know that they deeply love their country,” Gutu said.
“We are still carefully studying the statement by General Constantino Chiwenga. As the MDC-T, we are busy mobilising people to register to vote. Essentially, we are not really bothered by the events that are taking place in the collapsing Zanu PF regime.
“Of course, as a democratic party, we are worried when there is a threat to the stability of the country. We are a peaceful political party. We don’t want war. National security should be maintained and upheld at all times.”
Academic and political analyst Ibbo Mandaza said Zimbabwe had entered a dangerous epoch in its history and the ball was now in Mugabe’s court.
“We are living in very dangerous times and this is a dangerous situation. Mugabe has been given a non-option: If he does not fire Chiwenga, then it’s a coup. If he fires him, then the ZDF is done in,” Mandaza said.
But People’s Democratic Party leader, Tendai Biti said Chiwenga was for once right. “We have waited for so long to hear a national institution declaring its allegiance to the Constitution and not a political party. We have always argued that the actions of Zanu PF and in particular Grace Mugabe (First Lady) are leading the country to an implosion. It is why we have advocated for a National Transitional Authority (NTA),” Biti said.
“Chiwenga’s statement is a defining one in the country’s body politic. He is right to say that since the collapse of the unity government nothing has happened. Chiwenga passed a vote of no confidence in Mugabe. We are on the knife edge”.
Biti said Zimbabwe was at the precipice and asked the Church to pray for the country.
“Chiwenga’s comments are an opening salvo on the chaotic faction in Zanu PF led by Grace. So lines have clearly been drawn, Mugabe must fire Chiwenga, that is only the beginning of his problems. Our contradictions have become so deep as a nation that the only way to resolve them is an implosion before take-off. We as democrats and Zimbabweans in general do not want war. We do not want blood, but it is clear that those that are governing us are out of touch with reality,” Biti added.