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Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
31 polls: Army versus people
Chitemba/Clayton Masekesa, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
July 12, 2013
With the military
increasingly involving itself in campaigning for President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu-PF, the July
31 elections are shaping up to a fierce battle between multitudes
of Zimbabweans demanding change and the army defending the status
Mugabe and Zanu-PF
have activated their paramilitary campaign strategies through the
Joint Operations Command (Joc), which comprises the army, police
and intelligence chiefs in a bid to retain power. The military rescued
Mugabe in 2008.
fresh deployment of the military, persistently reported in the Zimbabwe
Independent for more than a year so far has now created tensions
within the party as some senior officials, particularly Vice-President
Joice Mujuru, are becoming uncomfortable with the active role the
army commanders are playing in Zanu-PF’s affairs.
understands Mujuru has been complaining in several meetings with
Mugabe about the take-over of the party by military chiefs now dictating
the pace of events, while imposing their preferred candidates in
constituencies during the recent chaotic primary elections.
In a recent
meeting with Mugabe, Mujuru reportedly launched a candid attack
on army generals for their role in primary elections in areas like
Bikita West where former Reserve Bank senior staffer Munyaradzi
Kereke was involved in fierce battle with his ex-colleague Elias
Musakwa and in Mberengwa where Zanu-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo
lost to July Moyo. There are also many other constituencies where
the army played a critical role during primaries.
Gumbo is aligned
to a faction led by Mujuru, while Moyo is a close ally of Defence
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Most senior army commanders, including
Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga, have close
relations with Mnangagwa. Gumbo has petitioned Mujuru protesting
over alleged irregularities and vote rigging in the primaries.
has ensured that there are more than a dozen Zanu-PF candidates
in the elections with security backgrounds.
of preferred army-backed candidates is said to have prompted Mujuru
to confront Mugabe after the primaries to question the role of the
military in Zanu-PF’s internal affairs and the party’s
Mugabe, however, shot down Mujuru’s protests reminding her
that they were still in power, courtesy of the role played by the
army in the 2008 elections.
is not happy with the military’s involvement in the party
affairs because the army chiefs, mainly those who sit in Joc, are
more aligned to Mnangagwa, which has a bearing on the Mugabe succession
issue,” said a senior Zanu-PF official this week. “The
generals are accused of imposing candidates, for instance, in the
Kereke case in Bikita West. Chiwenga reportedly ordered Kereke to
be allowed to contest primaries after the politburo had blocked
widely in the Independent over the past year, the army has vastly
deployed senior commanders and key military units across the country
in a bid to rescue Mugabe in the do-or-die elections.
chiefs have abandoned their plush offices at Defence House in central
Harare to join “Boys on leave” to campaign in the provinces
David Sigauke has been deployed in Mashonaland West while Major-General
Douglas Nyikayaramba replaced Brigadier-General Charles Tarumbwa,
who manned Manicaland in the 2008 disputed elections.
Engelbrecht Rugeje is busy in Masvingo, while Retired Major-General
Victor Rungani is co-ordinating campaigns in Mashonaland East. Vice
Air-Marshal Titus Abu Basutu is in Matabeleland South and Brigadier-General
Sibusiso Moyo in the Midlands. Brigadier-General Sibangumuzi Khumalo
is campaigning in Matabeleland North, while Colonel Chris Sibanda
is working in Bulawayo and Retired Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai
Etherton Shungu is in charge of Mashonaland Central.
As the elections
approach, some senior army commanders are becoming more brazen in
their approach and are openly campaigning for Mugabe and Zanu PF.
(general staff) Major-General Martin Chedondo, who has vowed to
defend Mugabe’s grip on power, last week told a platoon commanders’
course graduation in Nyanga that soldiers should rally behind Mugabe
and drive out the “few remaining whites”. He warned
soldiers against supporting the MDC-T, branding the party “an
enemy of the country”.
“I want to urge you to vote for our President Robert Mugabe
and Zanu PF. Your votes should help us with the numbers to get rid
of whites who are sell-outs.
we are not ready and will not allow bringing back the whites because
they have been calling their friends from outside the country to
impose sanctions that are hurting us right now.”
fierce Mugabe loyalist, accused the MDC-T of being an agent of the
West before ominously declaring that Zimbabwe’s future lies
squarely in the hands of the army. This confirmed a widely held
view that the next elections will be a battle between the army and
multitudes of Zimbabweans demanding change.
are falling over each other to back Mugabe while vowing to block
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from taking over even if he wins
gone on a whirlwind tour of the country’s 10 provinces holding
a series of meetings with war veterans and military commanders to
order them to campaign for Zanu-PF. Chiwenga’s wife Mary also
joined the campaign trail urging female soldiers and wives of army
personnel to rally behind Mugabe and Zanu-PF as they were “chosen
Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi has ordered his sub-ordinates
to vote for Mugabe, while police chief Commissioner-General Augustine
Chihuri has also openly declared allegiance to Zanu-PF. Air Marshall
Perence Shiri on Tuesday also joined the fray, saying “do
not force us to do that which we did not want to do” as criticism
of security forces’ involvement in elections grows.
commanders, particularly Nyikayaramba, Major-General Trust Mugoba
and Chedondo, have vowed to retain Mugabe and Zanu-PF in power at
all costs, pitting the military against the people on July 31.
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