National People’s Party (NPP) leader Joice Mujuru has demanded that the military must go back to the barracks.
Her comments come at a time when the opposition has said thousands of soldiers are deployed in the rural areas to harrass villagers ahead of the elections.
Mujuru, who is on a whirlwind tour of the Mashonaland provinces, told party supporters in Mt Darwin that she welcomed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement that elections could be held within the next half year.
“….there is a Constitution that must be followed. The army must go back to the barracks and revert to its duty of protecting all of us,” Mujuru said.
The military briefly took over power last November putting former President Robert Mugabe under house arrest before forcing him to resign paving the way for Mnangagwa who had been fired two weeks earlier to rise to power.
Since then, Mnangagwa has gone on to appoint former Defence Forces Commander now Retired General Constantino Chiwenga as Vice President and other senior officers into Cabinet and senior positions in the ruling Zanu PF party.
The appointments have been roundly condemned by the opposition who argue that the country has effectively been placed under military rule with Chiwenga also having been appointed Defence Minister.
Mujuru said the military had taken advantage of the people to install Mnangagwa as President.
“They took advantage of our grievances and thought all of us wanted Mnangagwa to be President. We did not support him (Mnangagwa), we were protesting against Mugabe’s long stay in power because he had become detached from reality. He was too old,” Mujuru said.
Last week, Mnangagwa, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, announced the country will go to the polls in “five to six months’ time or before July”.
Mujuru, a former Vice President before she was sacked by Mugabe in December 2014, literally declared “bring it on”.
“We welcome the announcement that there will be elections in five or six months. But it is disconcerting that some small party wants the polls postponed. We must follow the law which provides for a general election this year.
“We want free and fair elections observed by all who want. The result must not be disputed; we want a clean and peaceful poll then we can govern our country in peace,” the NPP leader told supporters to applause.