THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has dismissed online media claims that the military took over Bulawayo on Tuesday, saying soldiers were on the ground complementing police to enforce national lockdown regulations.
In a statement, ZNA deputy public relations director Major Alex Zuva said the army is a constitutional body mandated to protect the country’s territorial integrity and is not linked to any subversive conduct as alleged by some publications.
“The army has noted with grave concern the levels and rate of misinformation that continues to be peddled mostly by online news agencies. On Tuesday 16 June 2020, the Bulawayo24 ran a series of stories to the effect that the army had taken over the city of Bulawayo. This is a blatant lie as the army was and is still assisting police to enforce lockdown regulations in order to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Maj Zuva.
He said Tuesday activities cannot be linked to the demand by civil servants for a salary review as alleged by some conspiracy theorists who were claiming that soldiers were protesting against pay cuts.
“Note that there were no salary cuts to the soldiers or civil servants. The back pay was communicated when it commenced and it has always been public knowledge that it was going to end in May 2020. The army knows that there has always been an agenda to link members of the defence forces with negative issues as part of the calculated regime change agenda,” said Maj Zuva.
“All operations that the army carries out are sanctioned and in line with Constitutional mandate which is to ensure the safety of the public and their property. In no circumstances does the army go about beating innocent civilians as purported in the series of false stories on the so-called Bulawayo takeover.”
He said the military was aware that there are some individuals who want to whip public emotions and cause public anger against the military and Government.
Maj Zuva said: “As a professional organisation, the army will always deliver on Constitutional mandate to safeguard the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe.”
He encouraged media organisations to seek comment before fabricating stories.
Commenting on the matter on Tuesday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the public should be guided that the country was still under level two lockdown and only those with clearance letters should travel to city centres.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police were however addressing genuine concerns raised by Bulawayo and Harare residents following the intensified lockdown enforcements on Monday and Tuesday in both provinces.