THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T has challenged the country’s security chiefs to publicly commit to respecting the outcome of next year’s presidential elections regardless of who wins.
In response to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State of the Nation Address on Wednesday where he pledged to ensure elections would be conducted in a free and fair manner, the MDC-T, in a statement yesterday, said democratic forces would only find comfort if the army makes a similar commitment.
“The MDC will take comfort from a state of affairs whereby the newly-appointed Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), General Philip Valerio Sibanda, would publicly announce that the army is not going to take part in campaigning for any political party and also that the army will accept the results of a free and fair election regardless of who is the winner of the presidential election,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu said.
Several top army officials have publicly declared their allegiance to Zanu-PF and vowed not to recognise Tsvangirai as leader of this country even if he wins the next election.
In the run-up to the 2002 general election, the country’s security chiefs, then led by the late ZDF Commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe, declared they would not salute “anyone without liberation war credentials”, a statement which was widely perceived as targeted at Tsvangirai.
After Tsvangirai defeated Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections in March 2008, the army was accused of unleashing a wave of violence and terror which forced the main MDC leader to drop out of the race. A list of army commanders and officers who were deployed around the country to push a paramilitary campaign for Mugabe was circulated on the Internet.
However, the army denied it was involved in terrorising and killing voters ahead of the bloody June 27 second round of the presidential poll.
Over the years, senior military officers have consistently disparaged the opposition in particular the MDC-T, seen as the greatest threat to Zanu PF’s near four-decade rule.
Opposition parties have expressed fears that given the pivotal role played by the military in Mnangagwa’s recent ascendancy to the Presidency, they were likely to either tamper with election results or refuse to hand over power if their preferred candidate loses the presidential race. Newsday