You only have 7 days: ZNA Commander Lt Gen Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe in trouble over his elections and voting slur


The stage is set for a potential constitutional showdown as prominent lawyer Thabani Mpofu has taken the unprecedented step of demanding the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander, Lieutenant General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, retract his inflammatory statements about Zimbabwe’s elections. Sanyatwe, in a viral video that has sent shockwaves through the nation, declared that Zanu PF will rule “until donkeys grow horns” and vowed that the army will use force to ensure voters cast their ballots in the ruling party’s favour.

Mpofu, a legal heavyweight known for his representation of former CCC leader Nelson Chamisa and his party in election-related challenges, has accused Sanyatwe of violating the Constitution and acting in a partisan manner. In a strongly worded letter addressed to the army commander, Mpofu demanded an unconditional withdrawal of Sanyatwe’s “alarming utterances” within seven days.

“Sir, it has come to my attention that you have been recorded addressing a gathering of multitudes in the following manner (per my translation): ‘… Zanu (PF) shall rule until donkeys grow horns, whatever your stated and expressed wishes. I am now speaking as the Commander of the Army. We shall use what is called Command Voting… Do we understand each other? Forward with Zanu (PF), Forward with (PF)… Forward with ED Mnangagwa. Down with the enemy,’” Mpofu wrote in his letter.

He argues that Sanyatwe’s statements violate Section 208(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which mandates that security services remain non-partisan and act in the national interest. “The First Schedule to the Defence Act (Chapter 11:02) in that your conduct in uttering the above statements was unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman as it amounted to wilful and wanton violation of the Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe,” Mpofu stated.

Sanyatwe’s pronouncements echo a disturbing trend of military commanders openly declaring their allegiance to Zanu PF, a practice that has become a recurring theme in Zimbabwean politics. In 2002, the late Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, famously pledged allegiance to the late Robert Mugabe, vowing that the military would not salute any president who did not have liberation war credentials, even if they won an election. These declarations were widely condemned as a blatant attempt to intimidate the opposition and undermine the democratic process.

Mpofu’s letter to Sanyatwe underscores the gravity of the situation. He warns that Sanyatwe’s statements, insinuating the military’s involvement in rigging elections, constitute a “wilful and wanton violation” of the Constitution and laws of Zimbabwe. “I therefore write to demand, as I now do, that you unreservedly withdraw your above statements within seven (7) days of your receipt of this letter, failing which I shall take steps to ensure that appropriate remedies under law are put in motion,” Mpofu’s letter concludes.

The army commander’s pronouncements have sent shockwaves through the political landscape, raising serious concerns about the integrity of Zimbabwe’s elections. The opposition has vehemently condemned Sanyatwe’s statements, accusing the military of attempting to intimidate voters and undermine the democratic process.

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