BY BLESSED MHLANGA/MOSES MATENGA/AMOS BATISAYI
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government yesterday said it would not surrender power to the opposition, citing the Zanu PF leadership’s war credentials.
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba torched a storm by claiming on his Twitter handle that his bosses were soldiers who would not allow opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to “just rule”.
He was reacting to a peaceful transfer of power in neighbouring Zambia on Monday after opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu in a presidential election held last Thursday.
Zambia is the latest southern African country to have a peaceful transfer of power after Malawi last year.
“Thinking that the military are just wearing overalls (military gear) for Chamisa to just rule, fear God,” Charamba tweeted.
Charamba’s statement irked opposition activists who said it was an indication that Zanu PF would use the military to maintain its grip on power. Recently, Zanu PF acting national commissar Patrick Chinamasa said the ruling party and the military were inseparable. This implied that Zanu PF had become part of the military after it removed the late strongman former President Robert Mugabe in a coup in November 2017 and installed Mnangagwa as his successor.
Most of the military top brass, who executed the coup, including Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga were seconded to the party and government where they occupy key positions.
Election watchdog Election Resource Centre (ERC) expressed concern over Charamba’s utterances.
“The ERC insists that constitutionally, power to govern is derived from the people, not a few people, not people with a particular history or background, but Zimbabweans registered to vote, who cast their ballot which is administered freely, fairly and transparently, with an outcome that reflects the free will of the people which is unconditionally respected by institutions supporting democracy,” the ERC said.
Former Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo said: “Your warlords, in their overalls, are now the most vulnerable tiny winy segment in the population, in the army, in political parties and even in their families. Be a rational and ethical adviser Cde, tell them the truth, they better go peacefully or else their exit will be tragic.”
MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said: “It is a matter of regret that Charamba is invoking military scare tactics in an attempt to dampen the public mood following the inspirational win by the opposition in Zambia. It is encouraging to see that most citizens can see that Zanu PF is in panic mode following these important developments up north.”
She urged opposition supporters to turn out in their numbers and vote Zanu PF out of power in 2023.
MDC national deputy chairperson Job Sikhala said Zimbabweans should not listen to such threats.
Activist and former Combined Harare Residents Association director Mfundo Mlilo said Charamba’s statement was tantamount to overthrow of the Constitution.
“He must know that Zimbabweans will vote and reject this nonsense,” he said.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said: “The tweet by a top bureaucrat has been framed as one reflective of a ruling party fearing 2023 elections against realities of Zambia’s elections where the incumbent president Edgar Lungu was defeated.”
“The tweet is reflective of retrogressive exclusionary politics syndrome in Zanu PF whose basis is the chinhu chedu (sense of entitlement) logic.”
The Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T said the tweet was none of their business as it was targeted at Chamisa.
“That statement is directed to Chamisa and as a party we can’t involve ourselves in personal disputes, that is kids play,” party spokesperson Witness Dube said.
This is not the first time Zanu PF has declared that it would not give up power even if it loses an election.
Mugabe repeatedly declared that he could not be removed from power by a pen (elections). In March 2008, Mugabe lost to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round poll whose results were released after a month.
Observers say the polls were rigged to facilitate a presidential run-off that Tsvangirai later withdrew from after over 300 of his supporters were butchered by soldiers working with war veterans and Zanu PF supporters. Thousands of opposition supporters went into hiding.
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