By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, August 17, 2016 – THE Joice Mujuru led Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party has hit back at Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Constantino Chiwenga for allegedly meddling in party politics, adding this was against the dictates of the country’s Constitution.
In a statement Wednesday, ZimPF spokesperson, Jealous Mawarire, said Section 211 of the Constitution compelled the defence forces to respect people’s fundamental rights and freedoms and be non-partisan.
“As Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF), we take great exception to the involvement of senior management of the Defence Forces in partisan political activities, particularly the recent spate of statements and threats against political party leaders, activists, church leaders and the broader civil society,” he said.
Chiwenga has, past few days, threatened Zanu PF politicians who have been fighting to block Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s succession ambitions.
He has further threatened ordinary Zimbabweans who have embarked on peaceful protests against President Mugabe’s failing leadership recently.
The country’s most powerful soldier was also quoted in the state controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday rubbishing claims by ZimPF politicians that Mugabe’s contribution to the country’s liberation war was minimal.
Mujuru, who was ousted as both country and Zanu PF vice president during the height of the ruling party’s fall out 2014, has said during her rallies her former boss was not a genuine war veteran as he has no known guerrilla name.
President Mugabe was the face of the country’s bitter liberation struggle from his Zanu party whose military wing, ZANLA is the one which took to the war front.
For that, Mugabe, who was later to become the country’s founding president, was incarcerated for 10 years alongside other liberation war icons such as the late vice President Joshua Nkomo.
Since he started throwing out dissenting war veterans from his party for challenging his authority, Mugabe’s opponents have been quick to remind him he was not a genuine war veteran.
Mawarire said Chiwenga had no right to attack Mujuru for calling President Mugabe to order for denigrating the role played by other war veterans during the liberation struggle.
“General Chiwenga abdicates his role as the commander of the Zimbabwean army assuming new roles as Mugabe’s spokesperson, Zanu-PF spokesperson, spokesperson for the war veterans, all rolled in one,” he said.
The journalist turned ZimPF member said Chiwenga’s threats against political party activists were tantamount to abuse of his military office as he was intimidating citizens genuinely exercising their political rights to belong to political parties of their choice.
“We respect General Chiwenga’s rights as a Zimbabwean, his freedom of expression and his right to associate or join a political party of his choice, but we implore him to do that within the confines of the law and outside his official designation as commander of our armed forces” he said.
Mawarire challenged Chiwenga to resign from the defence forces and join active politics “wherein he would subject himself to the vagaries of political criticism without the luxury of falling back on military force against perceived political opponents.”