Opposition leader warns army will step in if Zanu PF loses in 2023, calls for dialogue

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By Leopold Munhende, Chief Correspondent

LITTLE known opposition Ideas Party for Democracy (IDP) president, Herbert Chamuka, has warned Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander, Valerio Sibanda, might step in to save ruling Zanu PF if it loses at the crunch 2023 general elections.

Speaking to journalists, Chamuka said the only possible option for Zimbabwe to get back on a path to development was dialogue, which would mean a suspension of elections for three years.

“Do not be too confident that the CCC will win or the IPD will win at next year’s elections. Even if any of those win, Sibanda will just wake up and say you will not get into state house and we will not be able to do anything about it because he will have the backing of the army,” said Chamuka.

“This means we will continue suffering. What we need is dialogue. Remember we were once told by then ZDF commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe, that late MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, will never be president, and we know they never allowed him.

“Even though it seemed to change in 2008, the situation reverted.

“Even if we anticipate the 2023 elections and the army is quiet, then Zanu PF has won. The country will not get better; in fact, the situation will get worse, we will soon be pricing bread in billions.”

The army has, since the war of liberation, played a central role in Zanu PF’s leadership structure, having engineered two successful coups then and a 2017 one that toppled the late President Robert Mugabe.

Its top echelons have, in the past, made its allegiance to Zanu PF public.

In 2008, the military was behind a reign of terror that followed Mugabe’s first ever defeat against Tsvangirai, which did not serve any purpose, as he was reportedly forced by the army bosses to remain in office despite his electoral loss.

Chamuka dismissed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Leaders and Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform as a congregation of poor men who just wanted to “eat” after he was quizzed on why a new dialogue initiative was necessary.

“POLAD was just an opportunity for poor men to eat. If you noticed, most of those people did not even have their own cars; their only opportunity to get those was at that platform,” he said.

The platform has since seized to meet, despite millions having been poured into its operations, plus perks that included flights to accompany Mnangagwa and top of the range vehicles at tax payers’ expense.

Added Chamuka, “What we need is genuine dialogue that will suspend elections for at least three years as we concentrate on fixing the economy. We need all opposition parties and Mnangagwa himself in a united government to fix this rot.

“If Nelson Chamisa (Citizens Coalition for Change president) does not want dialogue, then we should just shut down his political party because he does not want development. If he has the keys, as he says, then he should give us so that we use them to stabilise our economy, because the people of Zimbabwe are suffering.”

Chamisa has maintained he only wants dialogue that will map out the electoral processes, rules and punishments ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He told journalists there is no chance of him entering into a government of national unity (GNU) with Zanu PF, despite reports some of his leaders have met Mnangagwa to discuss this option.