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CCC lawyer Thabani Mpofu


Advocate Mpofu ultimatum to Lt.General Sanyatwe ends today

failing which I shall take steps to ensure that appropriate remedies under the law are put in motion




AFTER Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Anselem Sanyatwe received prominent lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu’s letter a week ago demanding the withdrawal of his unconstitutional remarks which have sparked public outrage, the seven-day ultimatum for retraction ends today.

Mpofu wrote to Sanyatwe a week ago demanding that he should withdraw his unlawful utterances within seven days or face legal action.

Mpofu says Sanyatwe’s remarks are a direct violation of section 208 subsection 2 of the constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulates the conduct of members of the security forces.

“Sir, I therefore write to demand, as I now do, that you unreservedly withdraw your above statements within seven (7) days of your reciept of this letter,” said Mpofu.

Failure to comply with the ultimatum, will see the lawyer likely taking the matter to court.

“ …failing which I shall take steps to ensure that appropriate remedies under the law are put in motion,” he added.

In a widely circulated video, Sanyatwe tells a public meeting that Zanu PF will be in charge till eternity.

“Zanu PF ichatonga kusvika madhongi amera nyanga muchida musingadi. Apa ndakutaura saCommander army, tichashadisa inonzi command voting,” loosely translated to “Zanu PF will be in power until donkeys grow horns”.

This is direct violation of the constitution which enjoins security personnel to shun partisan politics.

The constitution stipulates: “Neither the security services nor any of their members may, in the exercise of their functions act in a partisan manner, further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person.”

Sanyatwe’s threat of “force” citizens to vote for Zanu PF is not only a violation of freedoms of association and assembly, but a flagrant violation of security forces’ conduct as enshrined in section  211(3) of the constitution.

That section reads: “The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this Constitution.”

Sanyatwe vow that the military will impose “command voting” to entrench Zanu PF is a clear violation of the principles of free and fair elections, and a breach of the military’s neutrality in the political process.

This has triggered uproar among citizens who say Sanyatwe and the military pose a clear and present danger to democracy.

In a democratic society, the military is expected to remain impartial and not engage in partisan politics, political coercion or electoral intimidation.

Threats or attempts to influence voters’ choices undermine the integrity of the electoral process and can be considered a form of voter suppression.

It is essential to uphold the constitutional rights of citizens, including the right to vote freely and make their own political choices without fear of retribution or coercion.

Sanyatwe’s remarks fuel serious politicisation of the security sector and heavy militarisation of politics in the country.

Zimbabwean elections have been characterised by political violence, intimidation and fraud.

Sanyatwe’s remarks are unconstitutional but not shocking.

There are previous instances of military commanders brazenly violating the constitution.

“We wish to make it very clear to all Zimbabwean citizens that the security organisation will only stand in support with those political leaders that will pursue Zimbabwe’s values, traditions, beliefs  for which thousands of lives were lost in pursuit of Zimbabwe’s hard won independence. The sovereignty and integrity and the national interest. To this end let it be known that the highest office on the land is a straight jacket, whose occupant is expected to observe  the objectives of the liberation struggle. We will therefore not accept let alone support or salute anyone with a different agenda that threatens the very existence of our sovereignty, our country and our people,” said General Vitalis Zvinavashe in his capacity as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces on 9 January 2001.

Zvinavashe was making it clear that the military would not accept a victory of the opposition MDC in elections.

In a recent research paper titled The Military in Zimbabwean Politics, Sol Plaatje University academic George Maringira says: “In post-independence Zimbabwe, the military continues to be deeply involved in politics. The Zimbabwean military is based on its economic interests, as the power behind the ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (Zanu PF).

It is thus a politicised institution because of its need to sustain the party as its political wing.

Importantly, the relationships between the Zimbabwe military and Zanu PF date back to the liberation struggle.

It is crucial to understand that the survival of Zanu PF in politics and its continued existence as the governing party guarantee the military’s economic interests.

To sustain Zanu PF in politics, the military uses gun violence and other threatening behaviour against those who oppose and protest Zanu PF rule.

The Zimbabwean military not only threatens civilians, but also remobilises its junior soldiers to understand the political ideology of Zanu PF, borne out of violence and intimidation.”

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