The military has no role to play in MDC-T succession politics and the opposition party should not seek to delegitimise the country’s armed forces by making such unfounded claims, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba has said.
Mr Charamba said MDC-T should play its factional politics within the lever of instruments they can control, and the military was not one such lever.
This followed claims in the private media yesterday trying to smear the military by insinuating its involvement in the ongoing fights over who should succeed MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai who is battling colon cancer.
Reports in the private media, quoting faceless sources, alleged Mr Tsvangirai’s wife Ms Elizabeth Macheka at one point hid the opposition leader’s passport as a way of applying pressure on him to sign a document that ensured the party’s other deputy, Advocate Nelson Chamisa, was his successor.
Adv Chamisa is one of three MDC-T vice-presidents along with Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Thokozani Khupe.
The reports further claimed Adv Chamisa had the backing of the military and that Ms Macheka had intimated to the Tsvangirai family that the armed forces had guaranteed the former Prime Minister’s pension once he passed on the baton to Adv Chamisa.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Charamba said he was not privy to MDC-T’s internal politics but exonerated the military from any involvement in their succession squabbles.
“I am not a member of the MDC-T and I am just not knowledgeable about the goings on in that party,” he said.
“What I do know is that the Friday meeting (two weeks ago) between Mr Tsvangirai and President Mnangagwa and Vice President Chiwenga dealt with an issue that was exercising the former Prime Minister — the issue to do with the withdrawal of his diplomatic passport in circumstances that were unclear. It’s not clear who instructed that but the effect of it is that Mr Tsvangirai no longer had his diplomatic passport, which meant he was now travelling on an ordinary green passport — and that meant he was no longer able to access those conveniences that come with the red passport accorded to diplomats and high level personalities by host countries,” said Mr Charamba.
“A decision was taken there and then to instruct the new Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade General Sibusiso Moyo to reinstate that passport and, as per standard when you are being issued with a diplomatic passport, the Passport Office withdraws the green passport. No citizen is allowed to hold more than one passport,” he said.
“Without pre-empting anything within the MDC-T political environment, I suspect that maybe very well where the confusion is coming from. What I want to underline is that it is a false discourse to try and suggest that the Zimbabwean military has a say or a role in determining leadership in opposition politics and I want to stress kuti kana vachiita factional politics dzavo vane G40 yavoka, kana vachiita factional politics dzavo, can they enact those within the framework of levers of instruments that they can control and I am very clear the military is not one such lever.”
Mr Tsvangirai was diagonised with colon cancer last year and last week he issued a statement indicating that he was ready to pass the baton on to a younger leader.
He is currently in South Africa for his routine check-up.