Zanu (PF) backs ‘political’ chiefs

Service chiefs are free to take part in politics because of their role in the liberation struggle, according to a senior Zanu (PF) official.

Rugare Gumbo
Rugare Gumbo

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, Zanu (PF) spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, said service chiefs were entitled to be in active politics.

“They fought in the liberation struggle so we cannot exclude them from participating in the politics of the country. Even in America they do that and why should we not be allowed to do the same ourselves?” said Gumbo.

In the US, only retired servicemen and women are free to run for political office. Gumbo said his party would go as far as to amend the new Constitution to legalise the involvement of service chiefs, policemen and army officials in politics.

Last week, Jabulani Sibanda, the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association, urged Zanu (PF) to effect changes to the compromises they made while negotiating for the new Constitution.

“We are not contemplating amendments to the constitution at the moment,” said Gumbo. “But when the need comes we are going to amend it.”

According to the new constitution, service chiefs should conduct their duties in a non-partisan manner. However, Zimbabwe’s securocrats are on record declaring their open support for Zanu (PF). Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, even threatened his subordinates with dismissal from the force if they voted for the MDC-T party.

Political analyst, Alexander Rusero, said what Gumbo was saying would amount to a mere legal endorsement of the situation on the ground.

“The service chiefs are already involved in politics,” he said. Another analyst, Goodson Nguni, said the service chiefs had “every right” to take part in politics.

“It is difficult to tell them that they should not be involved in politics because they fought for this country,” said Nguni. Rejoice Ngwenya, another analyst, said efforts to change the Constitution would be resisted by civil society.

“There are some members of Zanu (PF) who are not necessarily aligned to the military that might want to veto such a bill,” said Ngwenya. “It’s just an ambition by Zanu (PF) but I do not think that it can hold.”

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