THE garrulous deputy Finance minister Terrence Mukupe has this year been a moving advert of how not to behave in public office.
However, utterances this week that the military will not allow MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to rule should he win the make-or-break elections were a new low.
Mukupe was nothing but reckless when he made the inflammatory statement that poisons an already volatile atmosphere.
The deputy minister, who is the ruling party candidate for Harare East constituency, recently told Zanu PF supporters at a meeting in Mandara that the army, which triggered former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster from power last November, would not allow Chamisa to lead Zimbabwe if he wins elections expected in July or August.
“How can we say, honestly, the soldiers took the country, practically snatched it from Mugabe, to come and hand it over to Chamisa,” he said.
Why is he speaking on army’s behalf when it has not said so?
After all, he does not even work for the Defence Ministry.
Politicians must stop stirring the pot in this explosive environment.
Such irresponsible rhetoric is polarising and toxic, especially coming from a senior government official.
Mukupe’s utterances even irked his own party, which issued a scathing statement yesterday, distancing itself and government as well from what it described as unlawful, reckless and most unfortunate claims.
In the statement, Zanu PF spokesperson and Information Ministry acting minister Simon Khaya Moyo said his claims amounted to a direct contempt of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The deputy minister’s sentiments go against what Mnangagwa has been preaching — free, fair and credible polls.
He undermined the general spirit which Mnangagwa’s government is trying to create.
Instead, Mukupe is raising the spectre of the late army commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe who once declared the presidency was a straitjacket, reserved for people who fought in the liberation struggle.
Government is fighting to extricate itself from the despotic mentality synonymous with the Mugabe regime, which ruled with an iron fist.
In addition to contradicting his party leader and President, his statement tarnishes government’s image at a time it is frantically pushing to re-engage the international community.
Mukupe erroneously thought by making such utterances, he would propitiate the military.
However, that exposed his naivety.
How does re-engagement succeed when there are such ministers poisoning the environment?
Mukupe is a disservice to government, Zanu PF and even the public for promoting a culture of fear by evoking the name of the army to intimidate opposition political parties and voters.
Former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo was correct to say Mukupe’s utterances “imperil national peace and stability, and amount to a frontal challenge to the tenets and practices of democracy as understood and practised worldwide”.