Military bosses must undertake to respect free, fair polls


MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube said statements by Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo that President Emmerson Mnangagwa would accept election results, even a defeat, were not enough.

Moyo told an audience at Chatham House in the United Kingdom that Mnangagwa, if defeated, would accept defeat and peacefully hand over power.

“While we appreciate that this statement represents progress from a functionary of Zanu PF and a former military strongman who was the face of the military coup which overthrew former president Robert Mugabe, that undertaking is not adequate,” Ncube said in a statement yesterday.

“What is required and would be enough is a statement from the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, made here in Zimbabwe and addressed to the citizens of Zimbabwe making an unequivocal and unconditional undertaking to the people that the military recognises and accepts the sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe to freely choose their government and that once they have done so, the armed forces will not only fully respect the decision of the people, but will, in fact, defend and protect that decision.”

In the past pre-election period, senior army officials vowed not to salute the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he won elections.

In 2002, then Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, flanked by then ZNA commander Lieutenant-General Constantino Chiwenga, former Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshall Perrance Shiri and former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, held a press conference on the eve of the presidential election to make veiled coup threats if Tsvangirai won the polls.

Ncube added: “Secondly, the Commander of the Defence Forces must immediately withdraw all army personnel that have been deployed among the people in rural areas as part of the Zanu PF election strategy.

“Equally, Mnangagwa, in his capacity as President and first secretary of Zanu PF, must instruct all Zanu PF functionaries, including traditional leaders, to immediately stop demanding from voters registration slips and also stop the attendant intimidation thereof.”

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