SW Radio Africa (London)

22 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Defence Forces Commander Links MDC-T to Renamo

The commander of the Zimbabwe Defences Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga, is likely to incur the wrath of the MDC-T after he slung mud at the party by linking it to Mozambique's Renamo forces.

At a meeting with war vets at One Brigade headquarters in Bulawayo last week, Chiwenga told them 'the MDC-T neRenamo zvinoshanda zvese' (MDC-T and Renamo work together).

The country's top military commander also admitted that the army owns shares in the diamond mine company. This contrasts sharply with Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's statement last week challenging people to prove that the army does have an interest in Chiadzwa diamonds.

But it is his statement on Renamo that will offend and infuriate Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party. Our correspondent Lionel Saungweme told us that four war vets who attended the meeting confirmed what Chiwenga said.

'Many of those who attended perceived his statement to be part of a propaganda campaign against the MDC-T,' Saungweme said.

Recently Renamo leader Alfonso Dhlakama was quoted as saying his army will return to war and destroy Mozambique, unless the government of President Armando Guebuza meets several demands, key among them political reforms and a revision of the 1992 peace accord.

The peace accord ended the country's civil war and led to the integration of former Renamo fighters into the army, police and state institutions. But Dhlakama left his home in the port of Nampula last month and led an estimated 800 armed Renamo back to base at Casa Banana, at the foot of Mount Gorongossa.

He said he was fed up with President Guebuza's failure to share government posts, reform the political system and integrate ex-Renamo rebels into the security forces.

Immediately after this Jameson Timba, Tsvangirai's foreign policy advisor, said his party noted with concern a possibility of looming insecurity arising from the political dispute between Dhlakama and the Frelimo led government.

'As a party, we believe in dialogue, as the only humane, civil, mature and democratic way to a resolution of any political disputes and other hot baton issues. Gone are the days where armour, military takeovers and violence were the means to achieve political objectives in Africa.

'The sovereign right to govern must be derived solely from the people and not from a few in military fatigues and wielding bayonets. We urge the political leaders in Mozambique to take this seriously and give dialogue a chance,' Timba said.

Retired army Colonel Bernard Matongo told SW Radio Africa that Chiwenga's statement was an attempt to whip up emotions within the army to try and create a backlash against the MDC-T.

'The only problem with that is most people in Zimbabwe, including the army, know the MDC is not a party that takes up arms to fight Mugabe or his ZANU PF. His statement will not have any takers, even amongst his troops and they all know this is election season so he's bound to do that to whip up support for ZANU PF,' Matongo said.

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