Zimbabwe Army chief Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda Tuesday  issued a stern warning to opposition forces, saying the military is prepared to deal with any insurgent groups that might pose a threat to the peace and tranquillity the country is enjoying.\r\nZimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga\r\n

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\r\n\r\nDue to the current deterioration in economy and service delivery , this move by the government is widely seen as a deterrent to silence as potential unrest.\r\n\r\nGeneral Sibanda  said the ZDF will remain on high alert and was keen to co-operate with all sectors involved in national security.\r\n\r\nHe said this in a speech read on his behalf yesterday by the Zimbabwe National Army Director for Civil Military Relations, Colonel Charles Matema, during a five-day workshop on raising awareness of cultural heritage in times of crisis.\r\n\r\n“By protecting the territorial integrity, the ZDF has to ensure that no part of Zimbabwe is lost to a foreign aggressor or nation,” said Lt-Gen Sibanda. “The ZDF stands ready to defend Zimbabwe against any major incursion by any aggressor by engaging in high intensity war.\r\n\r\n“We have not experienced this, but we remain on high alert to deal with any eventuality. When there is a threat of insurgents or bandits, the ZDF is also prepared to eliminate them.”\r\nLt-Gen Sibanda said the ZDF had a constitutional mandate to protect civilian power, both central Government and local authorities.\r\n\r\n“A case in point is the 2007 attempt by the MDC to topple a constitutionally elected Head of State and Government in an operation dubbed ‘Final Push’. The ZDF foiled the operation as it contravened the dictates of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.\r\n\r\nIn 2005 , the Zimbabwe Independent reported that a top Zimbabwean army general Martin Chedondo warned soldiers against supporting or entertaining sympathy for the main opposition, branding it an enemy of the country, on state television .\r\n

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The television said Major-General Martin Chedondo “issued a warning” at an army passout parade in the central town of Gweru that supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not be tolerated in military ranks.\r\n\r\n“In a no-holds-barred off-the-cuff speech … Major-General Martin Chedondo said it was the duty of every soldier to know the country’s enemies and to protect it from them,” it said.\r\n\r\nThe MDC was an enemy of the people and the state, and supporters of the MDC would not be tolerated in the Zimbabwe National Army, it added.\r\n\r\n“If there is any among you who are supporters or have any sympathy for the MDC, then the military is not your place.”\r\nOn the eve of presidential elections in 2002 — which the opposition charges Mugabe rigged — Zimbabwe’s army and security commanders warned in a strong but indirect statement that they would not tolerate a win by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.