PRESIDENTIAL candidates contesting the 2018 harmonised elections yesterday expressed mixed reactions to Government’s offer of State security with some preferring to be given money to pay security details of their choice.
Addressing a rally in Chitungwiza on Sunday, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said Government was prepared to provide security to any of the presidential hopefuls who felt insecure ahead of the harmonised elections.
VP Chiwenga made the pledge following a horror explosion that killed two and injured several people at a Zanu-PF rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday.
People’s Progressive Party leader Mr Johannes Chiguvare welcomed the decision to provide security to presidential candidates.
He said people who sacrifice to work for the nation deserved protection regardless of political affiliation.
“Security is paramount especially to those whose lives are a gift and inspiration to humanity,” he said.
“People who sacrifice to work for the country should be protected. They deserve protection regardless of their political affiliation. People like judges are provided with protection and this should also apply to all leaders who sacrifice to work for the nation.”
New Patriotic Front leader Engineer Tendai Peter Munyanduri hailed Government for the gesture saying it would go a long way in protecting presidential candidates from political violence.
“We welcome the development. That is really a noble cause.
“As presidential aspirants, we deserve the security because we may be targets of political violence,” he said.
Eng Munyanduri said he had not received any threats, but should the need arise, he would approach VP Chiwenga for assistance.
“Should I feel insecure, I will rush to VP Chiwenga,” said Eng Munyanduri.
Other opposition leaders had different views.
National Constitutional Assembly president, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said he did not require any State security.
Instead, Prof Madhuku said Government should firstly put in place a legal instrument providing for security assistance and then pay for the security services rendered to the candidates.
“Personally, I do not need State security.
“It is up to those who require it. But if there are those who require it, Government needs to first pass a legal instrument that provides for that. But I will prefer a situation where one chooses his own security and then the Government will pay for it,” said Prof Madhuku.
MDC-T president Dr Thokozani Khupe said she did not depend on security personnel for her safety, but looked up to God for her protection.
“I have always said my protection comes from God. There were a lot of security personnel in Bulawayo, but they could not protect the people. You can have a 1 000 people guarding you, but anything can happen. I am just putting my life in God’s hands. I always pray for protection as I get into my car.
“I pray to God to cover me with the blood of Jesus and fill me with the Holy Spirit,” she said.
Build Zimbabwe Alliance president Dr Noah Manyika said he did not trust State security following the White City Stadium incident.
“If the security that was supposed to keep the President safe could not prevent the blast then we are not guaranteed of security. This is something that we should think about. The other reason is that State security is not neutral and it will disadvantage us,” he said.
Multi-People’s Democratic Party president Mr Emmanuel Manyati said he was not sure if the State security was neutral or not.
“How did the people who wanted to attack the President manage to get close to the leaders?
“I am much safer with my own security. I feel the security needs to be scrutinised seriously. I am sceptical of State security. We need to go to the elections first and maybe we can discuss the issue of security afterwards,” he said.
MDC Alliance president Mr Nelson Chamisa referred all questions on security issues to his spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda.
Dr Sibanda, however, refused to comment saying he required clearance from Mr Chamisa first.
“We are not going to comment on that for now. That is something we have discussed with the president today.
“I will not comment until our president meets with appropriate teams,” said Dr Sibanda.
Dr Francis Danha of the Hashgtag1980 Freedom Movement Zimbabwe said the security offer from Government was suspicious. He said although they applauded the offer, they were sceptical about it.
“The President of the country survived a bomb blast in Bulawayo but he was not safe,” said Dr Danha.