Fear as military boosts ranks ahead of Zimbabwe polls


Zimbabwe National Army

from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare / AKANI CHAUKE in Johannesburg
Zimbabwe Bureau
HARARE, (CAJ News) – IN a secret move said to point to panic by the ruling party, and feared to raise violence against opponents, Zimbabwe is ahead of August elections reportedly recalling military reservists that have left the country.

The covert exercise by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) is said to have been ongoing over the past three months.

The Zimbabwe Military Academy (ZMA) in the fourth largest city of Gweru, Midlands province, where these reservists are apparently being trained in military refresher courses, is a hive of activity.

Although CAJ News Africa could not immediately ascertain why all these former soldiers, now scattered across the world were being recalled back home for military retraining, impeccable sources said the ruling party was unsure about the 23 August election outcome.

The Zimbabwean military has a history of using brute office, in support of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), when the latter loses elections or face protests over alleged vote rigging.

CAJ News Africa has been closely following the developments at the ZMA, where army instructors have been seen retraining the reservist army.

Those recalled include former liberation, military intelligence, army absconders and military retirees.

“We have just finished the training. It was very tough, but we managed,” an ex-military man recalled from Johannesburg in neighbouring South Africa confided.

He said he was on three-month leave from his company, paving way for travel to Zimbabwe for the military refresher course.

The former army major told this publication he had regained physical fitness following the trainings.

“I shed off all my (excess) weight and am ready for any eventuality after the 23 August election,” he said in Johannesburg, where returned on Friday but will be returning to Zimbabwe.

One former military and warrant officer spoke to this publication as he left the Gweru base of ZMA and heading back to Harare, the capital.

“Things are not looking good in the forthcoming elections hence preparing for any eventuality,” the ex-officer said.

Efforts to get comment from ZNA Commander, Lieutenant General David Sigauke, proved fruitless as he was said to be in a series of meetings.

The military have previously been involved in Zimbabwe’s political and electoral process.

They are accused of unleashing terror against opposition supporters in 2008 when Robert Mugabe (now-late) and ZANU-PF lost power for the first time since independence in 1980.

The armed forces have previously vowed never to acknowledge an elected president who does not have liberation war credentials.

The military also toppled the government of Mugabe in 2017. Mnangagwa succeeded him.

A year later, the army shot dead six people amid protests by the Nelson Chamisa-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) against alleged vote rigging.

Chamisa is again Mnangagwa’s main rival and this time leads the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

Elections are set for August 23 to select a president, parliamentarians/legislators, councillors and members of the Senate.

Political analysts predict a government of national unity in the event of a disputed poll.

ZANU-PF and the MDC formations entered such an arrangement after the 2008 elections.

– CAJ News







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