Mnangagwa belts Mukupe

HARARE - Government yesterday issued a stern warning against deputy minister of Finance Terrence Mukupe after claiming the military will stop the mainstream MDC from assuming power even if it wins the forthcoming elections.

This comes as the international community is closely watching the next elections, due at the end of July, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said should be free and fair.

Mnangagwa, who became president in November after the military and ruling Zanu PF turned against Robert Mugabe who had ruled the country for 37 years, railed against Mukupe, who was quoted by a local daily saying the army that “snatched power from Mugabe” cannot hand the reins to “youthful” Chamisa, the leader of the MDC Alliance and Mnangagwa’s main challenger.

Reached for comment yesterday, Mukupe — who reportedly made the remarks in Mandara in Harare on Monday during a Zanu PF campaign meeting — said he never uttered the said words.

“People should be serious,  I never said those words,” Mukupe told the Daily News.

Former co-Home Affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa, a retired army major and MDC secretary for security, yesterday challenged the military to distance itself from the deputy minister’s claim.

“He speaks for the army…and says the army will not allow this. What the hell are we getting ourselves into?  Where are we going as Zimbabwe? It is unfortunate that this deputy minister is allowed to tarnish the good image of the Zimbabwe National Army.

“We in the MDC have always believed, and believe up to now that we have a professional army. We believe that the people who are serving in the army now are professional and we salute the leadership of the defence forces at the moment…

“Now, here is a wayward politician who is allowed to get away with murder by stating that this army, which everyone respects, will not allow the verdict of the people of Zimbabwe to stand supreme after elections. Zanu PF should bring this deputy minister to order.

“I also expect the army to distance themselves from the utterances made by ... Mukupe. It is their duty…to ensure that they protect their integrity and never to associate themselves with such reckless statements,” Mutsekwa said.

In a harsh reprimand to the former banker, government spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the junior minister’s statements are “both reckless and unfortunate” and do not reflect government policy or the position of the country’s military which has been accused by the opposition of meddling in politics.

Khaya Moyo said Mukupe’s statement, “apart from being unconstitutional and therefore against the laws of the land” are contemptuous to Mnangagwa who has been preaching free and fair elections and has invited dozens of western election observers for the first time in almost 20 years after a period of strained relations.

“Hardly a month ago, the president warned against undermining the constitutional position of the security establishment through involving or dragging members of the uniformed forces into the country’s party politics and or activities.

“Through this directive, he unambiguously restated an iron-clad rule which ranks high among the pillars of our Constitution and which finds validation in the various Acts governing operations of various arms of the national security establishment.

“Consequently, any pronouncements which have the effect of undermining the supreme law of the land, and the authority of the commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, or suggesting that our well respected security organs will act in a partisan manner in relation to the country’s politics, apart from being unauthorised, are unlawful, reckless, improper, uncalled for and thus totally condemnable,” Khaya Moyo said.

“Besides they imperil national peace and stability, and amount to a frontal challenge to the tenets and practices of democracy as understood and practiced world-wide.

“Read against our own environment and the impending polls, such pronouncements have the negative effect of raising doubts on government commitment to free and non-violent plebiscite, as well as to its readiness to respect and uphold the will of the people of Zimbabwe as expressed through their electoral choices and decisions.

“This is untrue and flagrantly runs against what...Mnangagwa has pledged and is determined to deliver both to the people of Zimbabwe and international community.”

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