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Military: Zimbabwe’s Biggest Threat To 2023 Elections – Report

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By Alois Vinga


THE Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) has warned the controversial role of the military in the country’s politics stands as the biggest threat to the credibility of the country’s 2023 elections.

The alert by the coalition, an alliance of more than 80 civil society organisations, comes amid growing calls for the government to rein in the country’s armed forces.

In a six-page report prepared by top human rights lawyer, Dewa Mavinga, the CiZC singled out the military as the biggest threat ahead of Zimbabwe’s forthcoming elections likely to pit Zanu PF’s Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa of the MDC Alliance as the two main presidential contenders.

Chamisa narrowly lost the 2018 presidential election to Mnangagwa and has declined to accept the results accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of poll rigging.

“The biggest barrier to the holding of credible, free, and fair elections in Zimbabwe, which are constitutionally due in 2023, is the highly partisan and extremely politicised security forces,” the CiCZ said.

“The key to ensuring free and fair elections is to urgently reform Zimbabwe’s security sector to remove it from any involvement in the country’s civilian and political affairs.”

The CiCZ accused the military leadership of being openly partisan to Zanu PF and unethically benefiting from political patronage. However, it immediately underscored the rank and file of the security forces remained independent and professional.

The Joint Operations Command (JOC), comprising the heads of the security forces was also accused of playing a major role in large-scale and systematic abuses since 2017 leading to the deaths of at least 200 deaths, beatings, and torture of 5 000 others, and the displacement of 36 000 citizens.

“President Mnangagwa and his administration should make it clear to the security forces that their involvement in political affairs is unacceptable and should publicly direct the leadership of the security forces to carry out their responsibilities in a professional and impartial manner,” CiCZ.

It said for decades since independence in 1980, the military had interfered in the country’s political and electoral affairs adversely affecting the ability of Zimbabweans to vote freely.

CiCZ also called on Zimbabwe’s regional counterparts to take part in the preparations of the 2023 elections if credibility was to be achieved.

“Zimbabwe’s neighbours in the SADC and the African Union should assist in preparing for credible, free, and fair elections. They should press Zimbabwe to ensure that security forces are politically neutral and that they don’t interfere in the country’s civilian and electoral affairs.”