ZIMBABWE’S army general Constantino Chiwenga today told a press conference in Harare that the military will not hesitate to step in to save the country from counterrevolutionaries who are bent on destroying the ruling party, Zanu-pf, from within.
In a wide ranging statement based on Zanu’s liberation credentials and ructions caused by political factions within, Chiwenga said it was “saddening to see our revolution being hijacked by the counter revolutionaries.”
He noted that since 2015 Zanu protocol of conducting its business has changed significantly, with counterrevolutionaries gaining the upper hand. “Indeed the party is undoing its legacy built over the years,” Gen Chiwenga said.
Although Gen Chiwenga didn’t specify the counterrevolutionaries he was referring to, some political observers believe that his pique was directed at the G40 faction which is linked to Grace Mugabe’s bid to succeed her husband, president Mugabe as president.
In a thinly veiled reference to the recent sacking of former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who incidentally was an active member of the Zanu military wing from the age of 17, Gen Chiwenga said the current “purging targeting members with liberation credentials is a serious concern and must stop.”
Gen Chiwenga was emphatic that those bent on hijacking Zimbabwe’s liberation will not be allowed to do so because the military stood by president Mugabe slogan that, ‘Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.’
“Among other security threats are mutterings coming from politicians driving a wedge between security services for their own ends. There is only one commander in chief Comrade Robert Mugabe,” Gen Chiwenga said.
He noted that any instability within the party had a direct impact on peace loving people of Zimbabwe who had stood by the government and are now extremely disturbed by what is happening in the party. “If drastic action is not taken the country is headed towards becoming a colony again. That is a serious concern to us in the army.”
Furthermore, he said: “There is instability in Zanu-pf and as a result anxiety in the country at large. Any instability within the party impacts on the social and economic lives. The economic impasse has resulted in cash shortages and rising commodity prices. There is distress, trepidation and despondence within the country. People are disturbed by what is happening. The revolutionary party has been infiltrated by counter revolutionaries who are now preparing to return our country to colonisers. We must remove this air of uncertainty and allow Zimbabweans to enjoy their freedom.”
Gen Chiwenga also made reference to the experience of failed states in Africa. He said: “We cannot ignore the experience of countries like Somalia where minor political differences degenerated into serious problems.”
Many political observes believe that Gen Chiwenga’s statement is an act of defiance against president’s Mugabe’s apparent aim to override Zanu’s doctrine of leadership by promoting his wife who was only 15 years old at independence in 1980, to the position of vice president during the party congress in December.
“While General Chiwenga didn’t say anything directly against president Mugabe, his reference to attempts by some Zanu politicians to drive a wedge within security services only becomes meaningful if you take into account Grace Mugabe’s recent remarks against Chiwenga’s alleged support for Mnangagwa,” a political analyst based in the UK said.
A Zimbabwean political analyst based in South Africa said Gen Chiwenga’s press conference was indicative of the frustrations within the army hierarchy. “It is not a secret that the Zimbabwean army has been totally behind Zanu-pf and that it helped Mugabe remain in power after his defeat at the general elections by the MDC in 2008.
“However, since that time the army has seen many war veterans being cast aside by Mugabe even though they were the foot soldiers who secured his continued rule after Zanu was roundly beaten by Tsvangirai’s MDC. No doubt it has crossed Chiwenga’s mind that the time to state the army’s position is now before Mugabe wields his axe within their own ranks. It is also interesting that Chiwenga said that the Zanu Congress in December must be conducted in a free and fair process to allow give members the freedom to choose their preferred candidates.”