The Zimbabwe Defence Forces have no time to discuss their constitutional mandate in the media with misguided elements that do not understand their operations, ZDF Commander General Constantine Chiwenga has said.
Responding to reports that the ZDF leadership was dabbling in politics and undermining the country’s Constitution, Gen Chiwenga said members of the uniformed forces deserved respect for maintaining peace in Zimbabwe.
He was speaking in an interview with a local newspaper which will published in full on Defence Forces Day.
“As a professional Defence Force, we will not be drawn into debating our constitutional mandate lest we join the misguided elements of our society in barking at the image in the mirror and will therefore remain committed to fulfilling our role in the face of adversity.
“The ZDF deserves respect from all progressive Zimbabweans for their invaluable contribution to the liberation of Zimbabwe from colonial rule and for being the architects of the peace and stability that has continued to prevail in the country since independence,” he said.
Gen Chiwenga said the ZDF discharged its constitutional mandate as enshrined in the Defence Act.
“Our organisational ability, inevitable good conduct and professionalism have always been the marvel for many far and wide and the most sought after.
“If anything, the ZDF stands amongst the best on the continent and we vow to continue to hoist the Zimbabwean flag high.
“The Defence Act Chapter (11:02) clearly stipulates our functions and chain of command highlighting the existence of a single command through the Commander-in-Chief as is the common practice the world over,” he said.
Gen Chiwenga said the ZDF was a reputable force with a track record, both regionally and internationally.
In this regard, he said, the ZDF was involved in a number of United Nations peacekeeping and observer missions.
“In pursuit of some of its constitutional obligations, the ZDF has successfully embarked on internal and external operations.
“Most notably in the early days of its creation as a Defence Force, we went to Mozambique as we sought to safeguard Zimbabwe’s trade routes to the sea.
“Over and above the successful prosecution of these operations and commitments, the ZDF continues to honour its international obligations within the framework of African Union and UN Peace Support Operations.
“We currently have officers in Botswana, Burundi, Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Liberia,” he said.
The private media have been awash with reports that the generals were dabbling in politics.
This followed Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba’s statement that MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was more of a national security threat rather than a political threat.
However, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said Brig-Gen Nyikayaramba’s remarks were his personal opinion and do not reflect the view of the ZDF.
He said Brig-Gen Nyikayaramba had the right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed in the constitution, like any Zimbabwean.