» » Military sweats over Chamisa election victory spectre

​ZDF director of public relations and spokesperson, Overson Mugwisi

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) has all but confirmed it is ambivalent of what action it would take in the event of an opposition politician winning the upcoming 2018 presidential election ahead of sitting  President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose incumbency was propped by a soft coup by the military code-named 'Operation Restore Legacy' last November that saw the ouster of long-serving former president Robert Mugabe.
ZDF spokesperson, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, Wednesday had a torrid time trying to skirt answering  questions from journalists whom he had invited to Defence House in the capital to outline the role of the military before, during and after the watershed harmonised polls slated for July 30.
Asked whether the army, long accused of being complicit in the ruling party Zanu PF politics, would allow for smooth transfer of power in the event of a victory by an opposition presidential candidate, say front-runner Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance), Mugwisi ambiguously retorted "the military would be guided by the Constitution."
ZDF said it would respect the outcome of the July 30 harmonised elections as its conduct is guided by the Constitution. Mugwisi said ZDF members, like any other citizen, were free to vote for a political party of their choice.
He refused to declare that the military would recognise a presidential winner without liberation war credentials, saying he had no brief to tackle such issues.
Further pressed to make a public declaration on whether the army would salute an opposition victor if he happens to win the presidential race ahead of Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugwisi said: "I think I have made myself very clear. It was the same question asked and I don't think it will be necessary to repeat the response."
Mugwisi also avoided answering questions on who deployed the military to invade the streets and key State institutions ahead of Mugabe's unceremonious departure last November.
"Unfortunately, we continue to drift away from what we set ourselves to discuss here. I think this is outside what we are discussing here. I thought I made myself very clear from the onset here that I am putting across the role of the ZDF, before, during and before the forthcoming harmonised elections. For now, leave some of those other issues, if they are meant to be media queries, we can handle those outside this fora," Mugwisi said.
He also skirted over questions regarding the involvement of the military in Zanu PF elections where military helicopters were used to dispatch Zanu PF ballot papers for primary elections in Gokwe and Mberengwa in a move that was roundly condemned by opposition political players and even Mnangagwa himself.
"I think the position of the ZDF is clear that we are not participating in any political campaigning that you are accusing us of. I think that was made very clear," he said.
The military spokesperson, however, said soldiers were allowed to vote for any party of their choice, but could not dabble in partisan politics while on duty. The military, Mugwisi said, would assist the police in maintaining law and order and would also provide logistical support to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) when need arises.
Mugwisi denied reports that the army had deployed its members into the rural areas to campaign for the ruling Zanu PF.
"If some serving members are participating in the ongoing political campaigns, they will be doing so illegally and not as a result of an instruction from their commanders. Those with information on such misconduct should provide us with full details of such individuals to enable appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against them," he said.
He said ZDF had no direct role in the upcoming polls, but remained ready to support the police in maintaining law and order.
"We also remain ready to assist the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) with transport where necessary," Col Mugwisi said.
He said ZDF members at rallies attended by VIPs should not be misconstrued to be participating in political activities "as these are some of our official duties".
He said members on military commitments away from where they registered would vote using the postal ballot.
"Members who will be afforded the postal ballot include troops on training commitments at the all Arms Battle School in Nyanga, regular officer cadets training at Zimbabwe Military Academy in Gweru, members proceeding to the Russian military games and some deployed on border control operations.
"In this regard, we are disturbed by false reports already circulating on social media alleging that the ZDF is going to be used by Zanu-PF to rig the elections through postal ballot. These malicious reports should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve." LOCAL NEWS.

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