MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa has slammed Zanu PF for treating the Zimbabwe National Army as one of its wings and called on the party to respect the separation of powers in line with the provisions of the national Constitution.
His remarks come shortly after the Zanu PF acting national political commissar, Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that the party would continue to work with the military because they were inseparable.
“Always be mindful that there is this unbreakable continuity between the liberation struggle and Zanu PF… between the armies of liberation ZIPRA and ZANLA, and the national army of independence. Thus, any notion which seeks to break this bond should be rejected outrightly,” Chinamasa said.
The military has on several occasions intervened when the ruling party’s grip on power is threatened, resulting in deadly incidents of political violence during elections.
Chinamasa also asked the media to appreciate the fact that the current commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Valerio Sibanda and commander of the Zimbabwe National Army Edzai Chimonyo shared strong ideological ties with the ruling party.
However, in an exclusive interview with NewZimbabwe Sunday, Chamisa reminded the ruling party that the military exists to serve national and not petty interests.
“The military is not an extension of a political party the world over. It is condescending, patronising and unconstitutional to claim the sole and partisan proprietorship of national institutions like the military, police or the intelligence services,” Chamisa said.
“Political parties and leaders come and go but national institutions like the army stay forever. As such, the military is not an arm, organ or wing of any political party whether that political party is in or out of government,” he said, adding the army belongs to the people as an expression of national sovereignty defence and people security.
“The national army is a people’s army. Citizens have a duty to correct delinquent characters whose misconceived and misbegotten view seeks to reduce a people’s military into a militia of a political party.”
“Those utterances are not only a source of national instability and threat to national security but also earn the country a banana republic and pariah status.”
Political analysts and human rights defenders have since described the ruling party’s position on the military as “subversive” and calculated to frighten the electorate.
This, analysts said, gave the impression that the architecture of violence which Zanu PF has previously relied on, was on standby, in the process undermining free and popular participation in civil and political processes.
Watchers have also interpreted the message as a signal of panic and desperation emanating from heightening mistrust between the government and voters.