THE commander of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guard, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe has threatened to use violent tactics to stop ousted vice-president Joice Mujuru, now People First leader, amid indications the army will be covertly deployed to combat her new movement ahead of the crucial 2018 elections.
This comes amid disclosures the Joint Operations Command — which brings together army, police and intelligence service chiefs — is now actively in operation tailing, monitoring and battling Mujuru and her allies currently on the ground setting up structures and mobilising people in preparation for the launch of their new party before the end of the year and the 2018 showdown.
Informed military sources said this week Sanyatwe addressed about 500 army officers of the Presidential Guard on September 2 at 2 Presidential Guard Barracks in Dzivaresekwa in Harare during his brief to mark the end of the year.
During the address, Sanyatwe reportedly threatened to unleash the army to violently fight Mujuru and other senior officials purged before, during and in the aftermath of the Zanu PF acrimonious congress last December.
In the meeting, from which the Zimbabwe Independent obtained details, Sanyatwe said the army should be ready to abandon professionalism and fight Mujuru to protect President Robert Mugabe.
“Zvechisoja zvapera! Chii chirikutora nzvimbo munyika? Handidi kuti munzwe nemakuhwa kana kuverenga mumapepa. Mhuka inonzi Zanu PF ichatonga nyika ino iyi narinhi narinhi kusvika madhongi amera nyanga. Nokudaro pamberi neZanu PF, pamberi naCde Robert Mugabe!, Pasi naJoice Mujuru!
(Professionalism is over and many of you are wondering what is happening in the country. I do not want you to hear through the grapevine or read in the newspapers but the animal called Zanu PF shall rule forever and that is the reason I am saying forward with Zanu PF! Forward with President Robert Mugabe!, Down with Joice Mujuru!),” Sanyatwe said.
Sanyatwe’s remarks violate the army’s core values of “integrity and professionalism”. They are also almost certainly unconstitutional and illegal.
Efforts to get comment from Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and the army were unsuccessful.
Recently, Sanyatwe was in the eye of a storm after he threatened to unleash the army to evict the vendors from the streets of Harare.
Sanyatwe’s threats to battle Mujuru came as the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda this week also warned the army will crush external and internal enemies of the state, including the opposition.
In a speech read on his behalf by ZNA director for civil-military relations, Colonel Charles Matema, Sibanda said the army had a constitutional mandate to protect civilian power, both central government and local authorities.
“A case in point is the 2007 (in fact 2003) attempt by the MDC to topple a constitutionally elected head of state and government in an operation dubbed ‘final push’. The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) foiled the operation as it contravened the dictates of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Sanyatwe also claimed after MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai failed to dislodge Zanu PF from power in 2008, white imperialists thought it wise to fight Zanu PF from within “using those with the love of money, the so-called moderates”.
“They identified an old woman called Joice Mujuru who was vice-president to take over from Mugabe,” he said. “They showered her with presents and money and even ideas to prepare her for a transition. She accepted it together with her close allies such as Didymus Mutasa, Rugare Gumbo, Ray Kaukonde and Jabulani Sibanda who is a fake war veteran.”
Sanyatwe warned challenging Mugabe or seeking to remove him from power was dangerous, while also labelling Mujuru — a liberation struggle hero whose decorated husband the late retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru helped Mugabe to power — a money-mongering sell-out.
“Usabate huni inemoto nekuti unotsva zvigumwe (Do not play with a log on fire because you will burn your fingers),” he said. “So the party has its leadership which it chose in December 2014. What I want you to know today is that zuva haribude rimwe richipo. (Another sun does not rise before another one sets, meaning no one can rule when Mugabe is still alive),” he said.
More ominously, Sanyatwe said the “Zanu PF axe”, used in circumstances that pose a serious threat to the party’s survival, would be wielded again this time round, in an apparent reference to violent internal purges in the past.
“Zanu PF has an axe which it last used in Mozambique during the liberation struggle and it was used again in 2014,” he said.
A senior nationalist leader who was based in Maputo, Mozambique, during the liberation struggle said the “Zanu axe” is metaphorically used to denote violent tactics which included suppression, purging and eliminations.
“The Zanu axe was in a succession of events used to eliminate Thomas Nhari and others in 1974, Herbert Chitepo in 1975, and it was used again to suppress the likes of Rugare Gumbo and company in 1978,” the official said. “It was also used against Mujuru last year.”
The army has always been used by Zanu PF since 1980 to achieve political and electoral objectives. The involvement of the security forces to combat the then main opposition PF Zapu during the violent 1985 elections marked the beginning of partisan military involvement in electoral politics.
After the emergence of the MDC in 2000, the army got increasingly involved in politics and elections in a bid to rescue Mugabe and Zanu PF from looming defeat.
In 2002, then Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, flanked by then ZNA commander Lieutenant-General Constantine Chiwenga, Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Marshall Perence Shiri and Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri — security service chiefs — held a press conference on the eve of the presidential election to make veiled coup threats if Tsvangirai won the polls.
After Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential polls on March 29, 2008, the army was deployed to rescue him through a campaign of intimidation and violence ahead of the June 27, 2008 presidential poll run-off.
Other senior army commanders who have made blatantly unlawful remarks threatening the opposition include Major-Generals Douglas Nyikayaramba, Martin Chebundo, Trust Mugova and General Chiwenga.