Zimbabwean Deputy President Constantino Chiwenga has reportedly assured citizens that the military would never interfere with the country’s politics again – after it helped oust former president Robert Mugabe in November.
According to NewsDay, Chiwenga said the ruling Zanu-PF party had created a situation which became bad for the country, thus, forcing him, as the then military chief, to act.
The Zimbabwean army played an important role in bringing President Emmerson Mnangagwa into power last year, as they launched a brief take over from Mugabe.
The military temporarily took control of the country on November 15 when internal feuding escalated in the ruling Zanu-PF party over Mugabe’s succession.
Chiwenga said that the military’s move which was code named “Operation Restore Legacy” happened because constitutional power had been seized by none state actors, a development he said had resulted in the collapse of the economy.
Chiwenga’s remarks came a few weeks after the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) questioned the Zimbabwean army’s ability to stay out of the country’s forthcoming elections.
Speaking during an interview with News24, Senior researcher at ISS, Derek Matyszak said that there was need for the military to stay clear of politics if the country was to hold a credible election.
“It is important that the military publicly announces its pledge to stay clear of politics regardless of the election results. They have often been meddling in politics in the past and have just recently done that when they stepped in last year,” said Matyszak.
Earlier this year, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed that Mnangagwa had deployed thousands of soldiers throughout the country’s rural areas “in a sinister move to scare villagers into voting the ruling Zanu-PF”.
According to New Zimbabwe.com, the MDC said at the time that it demanded the demilitarisation of the villages.
“The MDC is… deeply concerned by the continued militarisation of villages around the country. We have solid and incontrovertible evidence pointing to the fact that thousands of army officers in civilian attire have been deployed into the countryside for the purposes of carrying out clandestine political campaigns on behalf of Zanu-PF,” the MDC was quoted as saying.