Chamisa praises military boss, allays army fears

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By Idah Mhetu

MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa has showered praises on Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda describing the country’s most powerful soldier as professional.

Addressing party supporters at the MDC Alliance’s ‘crossover rally’ in Harare Saturday, Chamisa said Sibanda will not attempt to block him and his party from assuming state power if they won Monday’s elections.

“I respect our army, especially Valerio Sibanda; he has accolades by the United Nations standards and I know that he is going to be patriotic and professional enough to know that if the people have spoken, they must be respected,” he said.

The leading opposition presidential contender promised to depoliticise the country’s military and to make sure that the army will not swear allegiance to a political party but to the nation as a whole.

“If the army is putting on a service uniform, they are carrying the country’s dignity on themselves,” he said.

Chamisa further said the army should not fear Zanu PF intimidation tactics but urged them to be professional.

“…Do not be afraid; you are professional, you are not Zanu PF’s militia, but you stand for the nation,” he said.

“Zanu PF does not own the military and it does not hold title deeds to the army but is for the people.

“The army does not salute an individual, but they salute a vote, the will and the credentials of the liberation struggle; that is one man-one-vote. So, that is what they are going to salute.

“No one is going to victimise the army, we will unite and make sure our army is professional and it is the badge of honour; if one army is in uniform, he should stand for the nation and should respect the people because they are for the people and not for a party.”

The country’s partisan military is infamous for blocking then MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from taking over as President when all signs indicated he had posted an electoral victory over then President Robert Mugabe 2008.