By Staff Reporter
THE opposition MDC Alliance says Zanu PF’s rhetoric that it will hand over power if defeated in the upcoming elections rings hollow if similar assurances do not come from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
Zimbabwe`s military was the force behind the toppling of former president Robert Mugabe from power and has been on record declaring that it will not salute any leader who did not fight in the country`s liberation war.
The military is also believed to have blocked MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai from taking over power in 2008 after defeating Mugabe in the first round of the presidential elections.
The MDC Alliance, fronted by Nelson Chamisa who is now the MDC-T president, needs strong assurances from State security apparatus that there will be power transfer in the event President Emmerson Mnangagwa is defeated in the July polls.
Foreign affairs minister Retired Major General Sibusiso Moyo assured the international community Monday while making a presentation at Chatham House in the United Kingdom President Mnangagwa would, if defeated at the forthcoming polls, concede and peacefully hand over power to the winner.
“If an opposition candidate is victorious in the elections President Mnangagwa, is prepared to accept,” said Moyo.
“Political contestation must not override national interests. People can come and go, but the state is more important.”
However, the Alliance said more needs to be done to convince the opposition.
“While we appreciate that this statement represents progress from a functionary of Zanu PF and a former military strongman who was the face of the military coup which overthrew former President Robert Mugabe, that undertaking is not adequate,” said Professor Welshman Ncube, the MDC Alliance spokesperson.
“What is required and would be enough is a statement from the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) General Valerio Sibanda made here in Zimbabwe and addressed to the citizens of Zimbabwe making an unequivocal and unconditional undertaking to the people that the military recognises and accepts the sovereignty of the people of Zimbabwe to freely choose their government and that once they have done so the armed forces will not only fully respect the decision of the people but will in fact defend and protect that decision”.
Professor Ncube added that the army should also withdraw its personnel deployed in rural areas “as part of the Zanu PF election strategy”.
“Equally, President Mnangagwa in his capacity as President and First Secretary of Zanu PF must instruct all Zanu PF functionaries including traditional leaders to immediately stop demanding from voters’ voter registration slips and also stop the attendant intimidation thereof,” he said.
Presidential, parliamentary, senate and local government elections are expected in July.
Former military leaders, now in Mnangagwa’s government, including vice president General Constantino Chiwenga, who retired from the armed forces shortly after former president Robert Mugabe resigned from power, had previously said they would not salute former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he won elections.
Mnangagwa has repeatedly said the upcoming elections would be “free and fair.”