“THAT is nonsense; do you believe in that nonsense?” Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief, General Constantino Chiwenga thundered Monday when asked by journalists about reports he was part of the so-called Lacoste group accused of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe.
Chiwenga, flanked by the heads of the army and the air force as well as other top generals from the security services had called a press conference in Harare ahead of Tuesday’s Defence Forces Day celebrations.
Mugabe, currently under increasing pressure from within and outside his Zanu PF party, last year complained about the security services involvement in the intra-party fights over his succession.
The Zanu PF Lacoste faction reportedly backs vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as successor but faces bitter opposition from the so-called G40 group which includes Mugabe’s wife Grace.
Mnangagwa, after being accused in front of Mugabe of plotting a coup by a junior minister, recently called his own press conference to deny any links to the Lacoste group.
But insiders say the vice president has the backing of the military top brass after allegedly promising to make Chiwenga his deputy should he win the succession stakes.
Again, war veterans who recently issued a devastating communique attacking Mugabe, were said to have held their initial anti-G40 meetings at army cantonments.
Even so, Chiwenga rejected association with any Zanu PF cations on Monday.
“We fought for the liberation of this country, to be whatever it is today, people lost their lives. So people who peddle such kind of lies and nonsense (about Lacoste) are not worthy their soul,” he said.
“All these colleagues (Generals) of mine here, we have all been in the bush we have nothing to do with the leadership of this country.
“The majority of us were in the bush since the age of 16-years-old, some even went younger than that.”
And in a warning likely directed at G40, the majority of whose leaders did not fight in the independence war, Chiwenga said attempts to “undermine the legacy of the liberation struggle, itself a constitutionally protected value” would not be tolerated.
“They must be aware that they are directly destabilising the Constitution which the ZDF is mandated to defend at all cost,” he said.
“We have been watching events that are happening in our mother land, which have a serious potential of destabilising the country. These have to stop and people must focus on developmental programmes.
“The history of this country cannot and will never be rewritten, therefore the ZDF will not accept any unconstitutional change of government.”