THE Zanu PF-military conflation came under spotlight last Thursday when opposition senators grilled Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri over the ruling party’s abuse of the army to retain political power.
This came after Zanu PF acting national political commissar Patrick Chinamasa recently bragged that Zanu PF would continue to work with the military because they were inseparable.
He told journalists that the party and the army were bonded by the liberation struggle background. Observers have warned that Zanu PF is already preparing for a violent 2023 election campaign season. The military has on several occasions intervened when the ruling party’s grip on power is threatened, resulting in deadly incidences of political violence during elections.
“This unbreakable continuity between the liberation struggle and Zanu PF” and “any notion which seeks to break this bond should be rejected outright,” Chinamasa said last month.
In Senate last Thursday, MDC-T Senator Morgen Komichi asked the Defence minister to explain to the House why senior Zanu PF officials continued to brag about the military’s active role in civilian matters.
“My question and my concern come from the statement which was in circulation for the past two weeks in which our dear friend, Cde Chinamasa, was attributed to have said Zanu PF and the army are one, and you cannot separate them,” Komichi said.
“Chinamasa reversed the gains of freedom and many people got worried because of that statement. However, this thing was on social media. Is it true? I think the nation wants to hear from the Minister of Defence and War Veterans Affairs.”
Muchinguri-Kashiri said Chinamasa’s utterances should not worry anyone as it was just a case of a politician making political statements.
“You also went further to quote a statement that was issued by Cde Chinamasa, who is not part of the Executive, and statements that politicians make are something that I cannot defend,” Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
“This is not a position of government. He is a politician who can make whatever statement he feels, but had it come from the Minister of Defence and War Veterans, then you would have every reason to worry,” she said.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said the correct position regarding the military’s role was recently spelt out by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Phillip Valerio Sibanda, who said the army had no role in party politics. He said this despite top military officials having in the past openly campaigned for Zanu PF.
The military played a key role in blocking the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from assuming power despite winning against the late former President Robert Mugabe in the 2008 elections, and in November 2017, intervened in the Zanu PF internal succession battles to facilitate Mugabe’s ouster by his mentee Emmerson Mnangagwa.