Army Hints at Coup if Mugabe Loses Poll

Army Hints at Coup if Mugabe Loses Poll
ZIMBABWE is facing a potential descent into chaos, as army generals intensify their thinly veiled threats of a coup if any opposition candidate defeats President Robert Mugabe in the upcoming elections.

The threats signify a looming conflict between Mugabe’s loyalists, within the security forces, and supporters of opposition candidates Simba Makoni and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who are pulling out all the stops to win. The situation has been worsened by the recent remarks of police, that they would crush any Kenya-style antigovernment riots the MDC has been threatening.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Gen Constantine Chiwenga, said at the weekend he would support neither a Makoni nor Tsvangirai government after the elections, claiming they were sellouts and agents of the west. Mugabe has also described them as such.

We will not support any other candidate than President Mugabe, who has sacrificed a lot for the country, Chiwenga said.

Mugabe, who in the past has deployed the army to suppress civilian antigovernment protests, recently said there would never, ever be a regime change in Zimbabwe.

Asked if it was acceptable for the army to dabble in politics, in violation of the constitution, Chiwenga said, Are you mad? What is wrong with the army supporting the president against the election of sellouts? Chiwenga and his lieutenants threatened to deal with journalists asking them questions about involving the army in politics.

Last week, the head of Zimbabwe’s Prisons Service, Rtd Maj-Gen Paradzai Zimondi threatened to resign, to go back to defend my piece of land, if Mugabe loses power. If you let the country go, God will not help you anymore and, when you die, you will go to hell for failing to defend your land against enemies, Zimondi said. His remarks were widely interpreted as a threat of coup if an opposition candidate wins.

Army commanders say they have ordered troops to vote for Mugabe. Soldiers were recently awarded huge salary increases ahead of the elections. Mugabe has also been donating farming equipment and computers to voters, in what the opposition describes as flagrant vote-buying and bribery.

On Friday, he signed into law the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which requires foreign-owned companies to offer 51% of their shares to black Zimbabweans.

Just before the 2002 presidential election, former army commander-general Vitalis Zvinavashe made similar threats, sparking outrage within opposition and civil society circles. The army did nothing, because Mugabe controversially won the hotly disputed poll.

The MDC expressed dismay at the threats of a military takeover if Mugabe loses.

The MDC condemns the reckless and unmeasured utterances by the some army commanders, that they would not salute an elected president other than Robert Mugabe after the March 29 election, the party said.

These utterances are being made after the realisation that Tsvangirai is a few inches away from State House. The MDC is definitely set for a landslide victory against a divided, confused and weakened Zanu (PF).

The MDC said the region and the international community must express outrage at such blatant coup threats by Mugabe’s regime. Any utterances that seek to undermine the people’s will are assaults on the fabric of democracy and expression of free will. Reckless utterances like these invite a forced exit from national service,

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