General Valerio Sibanda to be called to assure public that army will respect 2018 election results on TV

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THE MDC Alliance has said only a statement by the military commanders undertaking to respect the election results will be enough to guarantee a free, fair and credible election.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Welshman Ncube said statements by Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo that President Emmerson Mnangagwa would accept election results, even a defeat, were not enough.

Moyo told an audience at Chatham House in the United Kingdom that Mnangagwa, if defeated, would accept defeat and peacefully hand over power.

“While we appreciate that this statement represents progress from a functionary of Zanu PF and a former military strongman who was the face of the military coup which overthrew former president Robert Mugabe, that undertaking is not adequate,” Ncube said in a statement yesterday.

“What is required and would be enough is a statement from the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, made here in Zimbabwe and addressed to the citizens of Zimbabwe making an unequivocal and unconditional undertaking to the people that the military recognises and accepts the sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe to freely choose their government and that once they have done so, the armed forces will not only fully respect the decision of the people, but will, in fact, defend and protect that decision.”

In the past pre-election period, senior army officials vowed not to salute the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he won elections.

In 2002, then Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, flanked by then ZNA commander Lieutenant-General Constantino Chiwenga, former Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Air Marshall Perrance Shiri and former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, held a press conference on the eve of the presidential election to make veiled coup threats if Tsvangirai won the polls.

Ncube added: “Secondly, the Commander of the Defence Forces must immediately withdraw all army personnel that have been deployed among the people in rural areas as part of the Zanu PF election strategy.

“Equally, Mnangagwa, in his capacity as President and first secretary of Zanu PF, must instruct all Zanu PF functionaries, including traditional leaders, to immediately stop demanding from voters registration slips and also stop the attendant intimidation thereof.”

Speaking at a rally in Harare in January MDC Alliance president Chamisa also said Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, must publicly commit to accept the election outcome.

General Sibanda was among the senior officers who backed the military intervention that ousted former president Robert Mugabe last month, resulting in Mnangagwa taking over power.

“We want to call Valerio Sibanda on ZTV so that he makes assurances that the army will respect the outcome of the vote,” said Chamisa amid cheers from supporters.

Since taking over power, President Mnangagwa has repeatedly insisted that elections would be free and fair, adding that the international community would be allowed to observe the vote.

But the opposition alliance said it wanted more than mere platitudes from the Zanu PF leader.

– NewsDay


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