Sibanda blasts Sanyatwe

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Firebrand former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda says unlawful threats against former vice-president Joice Mujuru by Zimbabwe Presidential Guard commander Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe have all but confirmed the senior army officer is “acting like a terrorist and a member of the Third Force” which works to clandestinely subvert the people’s will.

Owen Gagare

In a hard-hitting response this week to Sanyatwe’s ominous threats against Mujuru and her allies, Sibanda said: “A good many people believe that Sanyatwe is mad; many others believe he is stupid; while the rest believe that although he is either mad, stupid or both, he actually meant what he said. And I believe that by what he said he had outed himself as a member of the ‘Third Force’ terrorists.”

Sibanda was also reacting to Sanyatwe’s attack on him last week that he is a “fake” war veteran.
He said the People First movement is not moved by Sanyatwe’s recent outbursts that the army would crush Mujuru and her associates ahead of the 2018 elections.

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Addressing about 500 men and women under his command at 2 Presidential Guard base in Dzivaresekwa, Harare, last month, Sanyatwe said professionalism should be put aside as the army prepares to tackle Mujuru, whom he described as a “money-loving sell-out”.

Sibanda, a key member of the People First movement, a group of senior former Zanu PF officials ousted from the party and government currently rallying behind Mujuru, said he was keenly waiting to see if President Robert Mugabe, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces General Constantine Chiwenga would condemn Sanyatwe’s partisan political statements, as they were unconstitutional and unlawful.

He, however, said Sanyatwe remarks were in line with the ongoing intimidation and fear campaign against those thought to be supportive of the People First project.

“But this situation does not scare us a little bit. We cannot be intimidated by anyone,” said Sibanda. “A lot has been happening. We know of the small cars that are following us; I have seen people moving around my farm. We are aware of officers being trained to terrorise us and we are aware that our phones are bugged and they are listening to our conversations. But we still sleep in our houses and travel on the country’s roads. We are not afraid at all.”

Sibanda said at grassroots level, former Zanu PF activists who ceased to be active in the party after the December congress were being intimidated by Zanu PF officials. He, however, said people like Sanyatwe would soon come short “both in length and height” as the “people of Zimbabwe are eager to fight for victory against unemployment and corruption”.

“The nation is not scared at all, but the question is: will Sadc remain indifferent to such reckless remarks knowing what happened in Lesotho? Is the African Union and the United Nations going to watch, while a person who commands a whole battalion makes such unconstitutional statements?

“What Sanyatwe is saying is against Section 208 of the constitution. By saying zvechisoja zvapera (professionalism should be abandoned), he is confirming that he is now acting like a terrorist and a member of the Third Force. Remember, the Third Force was responsible for the 2008 violence, and if there were any war veterans who participated in that, they were under the command of that force.

“If President Mugabe, Sekeramayi and Chiwenga remain quiet, the people will say the army has been reduced to a terrorist organisation; so we are waiting to hear what happens to Sanyatwe. Sanyatwe is basically saying he is not bound by Section 208 of the constitution.”

Section 208(2) of the constitution, which outlines the expected conduct of members of the security services, stipulates that it is illegal for the security sector to be partisan and to further the interest of a political party.

It reads: “Neither the security services nor any of their members may in the exercise of their functions act in a partisan manner, further the interests of any political party or cause, prejudice the lawful interests of any political party and that serving members of the security services must not be active members or office bearers of any political party or organisation.”

Sibanda said it was clear that Sanyatwe views the Zimbabwe National Army as a guerilla movement, similar to the Zanla and Zipra forces, military wings for Zanu and Zapu respectively, rather than a professional force which serves the interests of the nation.

He said Sanyatwe is either ignoring or does not know that constitutionally the army always serves the government of the day.

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