Opposition political party leaders and their supporters who are not happy with the conduct of the Zimbabwe National Army and their presence in the rural areas should take up arms and remove the soldiers from the communities, Presidential Advisor, Chris Mutsvangwa, said.
Mutsvangwa, who is also the War Veterans association chairperson, was initially appointed as Information Minister but President Emmerson Mnangagwa later rescinded the decision and made him his advisor.
Contributing on the topic ‘Making Elections Make Sense’ debate organised by Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) at a local hotel Thursday, Mutsvangwa had a torrid time as he was continuously jeered by the audience each time he defended the presence of military personnel in rural communities.
According to NGOs, over 5000 soldiers are deployed in the rural areas to scare villagers into voting for Zanu PF in the forthcoming elections.
Speaking at the same event as Mutsvangwa, opposition party representatives said the upcoming elections won’t be free, fair and credible with over 5000 military men already terrorising villagers but president Mnangagwa’s aide thought otherwise.
“If you have any issues with the military and you hate them so much, I have got one dictum for you, we had a military which we hated as young people; it was called the Rhodesian Army,” Mutsvangwa told the audience amid jeers.
“We decided that we didn’t want it, but we could not deal with that army on the Zimbabwean soil, we had to go into exile as young people to Romania, Russia, China, Yugoslavia and Cuba, trained there and came back and fought it (Rhodesian army.”
“If you have got issues with the Zimbabwean army, if you have issues with the Zimbabwean State, that’s how we removed it (Rhodesian Army), from power,” he added.
“So stop bringing it (army) into the electoral playing field.”
Mutsvangwa went on to say that the opposition must mobilise voters because the army does not make any party win.
He said, “Our problem as Zanu PF is how do we improve the lives of Zimbabweans; there is no military which will decide the election but voters.
“All this hullabaloo about the military, the military, is being made by losers who cannot even win one vote.”