Opposition tells Zimbabwe military to keep the neutrality promise

Wednesday July 4 2018

Zimbabwe's main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Nelson Chamisa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Zimbabwe's main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate Nelson Chamisa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KITSEPILE NYATHI
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The leader of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Mr Nelson Chamisa, has challenged the military to live up to their promise of neutrality during the July 30 General Election.

Mr Chamisa told journalists after the army's promise that the “military must now walk the talk and stick to its promise” not to interfere in electoral processes.

“I was happy to hear that soldiers will respect the election outcome,” he said in Harare on Wednesday.

“I hope they walk the talk.”

Mr Chamisa, who is the candidate for a coalition of parties, said they wanted an audit of the voters’ roll and want the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to involve them in the printing of ballot papers.

“We do not have any evidence if the roll is going to be a final voters’ roll,” Mr Chamisa said.

The outcome

“We will have an election without a ballot paper that has been agreed upon.”

The military on Wednesday said it will respect the outcome of the General Election.

The pledge came as tension mounts over an alleged plot to rig the polls in favour of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The army said it will abide by the constitution even if the outcome of the polls did not favour the incumbent.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. FILE

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Our presence during rallies, which have (very important people) VIPs is one of our official duties,” army spokesperson Overson Mugwisi told journalists in Harare.

“Officials will not be taking part in election campaigns. No soldiers have been deployed in rural areas as alleged by some sections of the media.

“The Zimbabwe Defence Forces abide by the constitution and everything we are going to do during the polls will be in accordance with the constitution.”

Opposition parties accuse the military of influencing the operation of ZEC, but Col Mugwisi said they were only providing logistical support to the body.

In November last year, the military put President Mugabe under house arrest before he was forced to resign a few days after he fired Mr Mnangagwa, who was his deputy at the time.

Disputed polls

The army commander who led the coup, Mr Consantino Chiwenga, is now one of the vice-presidents in the new government, which also has a number of former high ranking army officials.

President Mnangagwa will face the youthful Mr Chamisa, whose influence has been increasing since taking over from MDC's founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai in March.

President Mnangagwa has pledged to deliver a free and fair election after years of disputed polls in Zimbabwe.

The European Union will deploy elections observers for the first time since its mission was expelled by Mr Mugabe’s government on the eve of the 2002 presidential poll.