Senior members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) are on record declaring that the opposition as well as individuals without liberation war credentials are not fit to lead the country.
The sentiments have also been amplified by senior officials of the ruling party, Zanu PF.
During past elections (which have largely failed the credibility test) there has been heavy involvement of the army in the electoral processes and this has been in brazen violation of the country’s supreme law.
When Zimbabweans protested against electoral theft in August 2018, the army (after helping President Emmerson Mnangagwa ascend to power through a military coup in November 2017) was deployed against civilians and about six people were shot in cold blood.
The army was to later on clampdown on opposition and civic society activists and cases of rights violations in the form of torture, abductions as well as rape were reported.
After Mnangagwa was declared winner of the controversial 2018 elections, what followed was militarisation of key state institutions and the militarisation drive has continued ever since.
In an interview with the Crisis Report, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Deputy Youth Committee Chairperson and Director of Youth Forum, Ashton Bumhira said it was unfortunate that from time immemorial, the military has operated as an appendage of the ruling party, Zanu PF against the dictates of the constitution.
He said the military involvement in politics has created an uneven playing field during election periods.
“The military and ruling politicians in Zimbabwe are inseparable. History has shown us that the military is used as an extension of the ruling party. Zanu PF has used the military to instil fear whilst threatening voters as well as political opponents and to create an uneven playing field in our politics. It is going to be very difficult to have democratic change in Zimbabwe as long as the security sector is not a national establishment.
“It’s a tragedy for our democracy when you have military generals coming live on national television saying they will not accept a leader without war credentials like they did in 2002. We continue to hear from authoritative voices like George Charamba (Deputy Chief Secretary, Presidential Communications) that the army will never allow the opposition to lead Zimbabwe and what is most unfortunate is the fact that the military keeps mum about it and never issues a statement to the contrary,” said Bumhira.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Gender Secretary, Nancy Njenge said it was unfortunate that the army was among the perpetrators of rights violations in their defence of the ruling party, Zanu PF.
She also attributed the closure of the democratic space in Zimbabwe to the heavy involvement of the army in Zimbabwe’s political affairs.
Zimbabwe Divine Destiny (ZDD) leader, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya said events that unfolded during the bloody 2008 elections prove that the army has been a huge obstacle towards a democratic transition in Zimbabwe.
During the 2008 election run off, the army, Zanu PF militia and war veterans unleashed violence against opposition supporters and eventually, the then opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai had to pull out of the run off election.
The run off came after the then Zanu PF leader, the late Robert Mugabe had refused to concede defeat to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Mugabe was to later on admit during a Zanu PF function that Tsvangirai had won the election by amassing 73 percent of the total votes cast.
Said Bishop Magaya, “The 2008 elections were clear evidence that the military is an obstacle to democratic change. It is in 2008 (post the Tsvangirai victory) that the military interfered with the announcement of the results and up to now have become part of the shareholders in the power dynamics,” said Bishop Magaya.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Spokesperson, Marvellous Khumalo highlighted that the military involvement in the politics of the country was unconstitutional.
He added that non-adherence to the constitution by the military and the ruling party has worsened the Zimbabwean crisis.