10 June 2018

Zimbabwe: Chamisa Charms Military, Vows to Depoliticise CIO

Photo: The Standard
Grace Mugabe.

MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa has pledged improved living standards for the country's servicemen and to depoliticise the national spy agency which he says has been abused to torment opposition activists by the Zanu PF regime.

Speaking during the launch of the MDC Alliance manifesto on Thursday, the 40-year-old presidential hopeful said it would be taboo under his government to find uniformed soldiers travelling to work on open trucks.

"We will respect our institutions. The soldiers are going to enjoy life," he said, adding, "There is no soldier who is supposed to travel on the back of an open truck.

"Because by putting on a service uniform, you are carrying the country's dignity on yourself. It's an insult.

"A soldier should eat well, earn well, dress well and also show genuine love."

He added; "Yes, it's the same with the intelligence services. To our CIOs, we are now changing orientation.

"You will no longer be sent to trail the opposition; the likes of (war veterans secretary general, Victor) Matemadanda when they are in opposition, the likes of (Chris) Mutsvangwa.

"We know they are talkative but don't follow them. Just leave them like that."

Under former President Robert Mugabe's government, the mention of CIOs brought chills within the opposition and civil society activists who are often described as enemies of the State because of their opposition to mis-governance.

The country's dreaded spy agency is responsible for the torture, disappearance and killing of some opposition figures and civil society activists during Mugabe's 37-year rule.

In his address, Chamisa said his government will re-orient the country's central intelligence towards matters of national and not partisan interest.

"We will reorient our intelligence services so that we focus on economic intelligence and trade intelligence, investment opportunities intelligence which is economic in orientation not just political in orientation," he said.

His pledges towards the security organs could be seen as an attempt to calm their nerves and secure their support as they have been the stumbling block between the main opposition and State authority.

The country's partisan military is notorious for blocking then MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai from taking over as President when all signs indicated he had posted an electoral victory over Mugabe 2008.

Security commanders have on more than one occasion declared they would block from assuming power, any presidential winner who has no liberation war credentials in their CV.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government have said they will not cling to power when they lose the July 30 election although the military is yet to make similar assurances.

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