'Take army's promise with pinch of salt,' pro-democracy group tells Zimbabweans

2018-07-06 15:36
A Zimbabwean national army member. (Jekesai Njikizana, AFP)

A Zimbabwean national army member. (Jekesai Njikizana, AFP)

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A Zimbabwean pro-democracy group has reportedly said that the country's military should not be trusted a few days after it declared its neutrality in the upcoming crunch polls.

An AFP report said Zimbabwe's military vowed on Wednesday to stay neutral in the upcoming elections, dismissing suggestions it would deploy service personnel to influence the national polls scheduled for July 30.

The military is under close scrutiny following its brief takeover in November that led to the resignation of former president Robert Mugabe.

Previous elections under Mugabe were marred by violence, intimidation and fraud – often alleged to involve the security forces

A coalition of civil organisations has warned that the military should not be trusted because it has a history of backing the ruling Zanu-PF party, said a New Zimbabwe.com report.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said Zimbabweans should take the military's assurances with a "pinch of salt" as it previously backed the Zanu-PF party under the Mugabe regime.

Army needs to make 'clear' statement

He said several senior military and Zanu-PF officials had made statements that pointed to the army's involvement in the ruling party.

Moyo's remarks came days after the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said the pledge from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to stay clear of the forthcoming crunch polls was "not really significant", given the army's past intrusive behaviour.

In an interview with News24, senior researcher at ISS Derek Matyszak said the army should not be making "empty statements" that deny its deployment in rural areas.

He insisted that the army needed to clearly state that it would not interfere with the results of the vote.

"What is required from the army is not a denial that they have deployed troops in support of Zanu- PF in the rural areas, but a clear statement that they will accept the election result regardless of who wins.

"This is required because of its statement in 2002 that they would not accept an MDC victory, the military intervention in 2008 stopping former MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai from attaining the presidency even though he won the election, and the military intervention in November 2017," said Matyszak.

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Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  zimbabwe 2018 elections

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