Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri has reportedly come under fire for her remarks over the weekend when she said that the government will use the army to deal with “internal threats”, a veiled reference to protests.
Highly-placed government officials told the Daily News that the Defence Minister was offside as her remarks did not resonate with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s line of thinking. Said the sources:
Muchinguri-Kashiri was both right and wrong. She was right in coming out strongly against those who want to cause anarchy in the country. In fact, the Constitution does not allow that.
But she was also wrong to suggest that the army will be used to usurp the work of the police in civilian matters. Only the Commander-in-Chief of the military, not the Defence minister, can deploy the army.
Political analysts who spoke to the Daily News opined that Muchinguri’s utterances were wrongly timed and out of order.
Piers Pigou, a senior consultant at the International Crisis Group (ICG) had this to say:
This is a highly-irresponsible statement by the minister and reinforces an impression that Mnangagwa’s government is locked into a militaristic mindset that has totally ignored the recommendations of the Motlanthe Commission.
Protests are not unconstitutional and the police are responsible for internal security. It is precisely this kind of belligerence that leads people to think that this is a military government with a civilian mask.
While speaking to State media over the weekend, Muchinguri had said:
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) posture on national defence and security is defensive in nature, hence the organisation trains to meet both internal and external security threats.
Judging from the negative private press reports, including adverse social media reports, it is true that frantic efforts are being made by opposition political parties, supported by some non-governmental organisations, to tarnish the good image of the ZDF.