Former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa says the country’s security chiefs have no issues with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and will readily accept him if he wins next year’s eagerly-anticipated national elections.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, amid lingering citizen anxiety that securocrats will once again intervene in the country’s politics next year, Mutasa — who for long was a close confidante of President Robert Mugabe, and superintended over the much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) — said the fear was misplaced.
He also revealed that contrary to public perceptions, security chiefs had allegedly accepted Mugabe’s stunning defeat by Tsvangirai in the hotly-disputed 2008 polls — adding, for emphasis, that “nothing has changed”.
“When Tsvangirai won the elections in 2008, he left the country soon after, even though the military had accepted his win. I am sure that the military will accept his victory again this time.
“The military respect and will respect the will of the people. In 2008, people spoke and Tsvangirai disappeared. At that time, I was the head of the security establishment and I am quite sure that nothing would have happened to Tsvangirai had he stayed.
“We have rules and the security will not change our laws. Our Constitution is very clear on this,” Mutasa said.
Nevertheless, there is a latent fear among both ordinary Zimbabweans and the opposition that the military will never accept anyone who does not have liberation war credentials as the country’s leader.
This fear follows the controversial move by the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who addressed a media conference just before the 2002 presidential elections — while in the company of other security chiefs — and threatened opposition leaders.
“We wish to make it very clear to all Zimbabwean citizens that the security organisations will only stand in support of those political leaders that will pursue Zimbabwean values, traditions and beliefs for which thousands of lives were lost …
“Let it be known that the highest office in the land is a straightjacket 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,” he thundered ominously then.
Some serving military chiefs have also, since then, expressed similar views, stoking fears that even if the opposition was to win the watershed 2018 elections, the security establishment would subvert the will of the people.
But Mutasa insisted that such views were not universally-held within the security establishment — whose members were also feeling the pinch of the country’s economic meltdown.
He also said recent remarks by Defence Forces commander Constantino Chiwenga who referred to Zanu PF as “our party” last month — in a statement which drew heavy fire from the opposition — did not “mean much”.
“There are so many people who may vote against his (Chiwenga’s) preferred candidate and he will do nothing because the army respects the will of the people,” Mutasa said.
In recent months, Tsvangirai has repeatedly gone out of his way to assure security chiefs that nothing will happen to them if he wins the watershed 2018 elections.
“I have a message to those who have in the past resisted change and who remain keen to subvert the people’s will because of their uncertainty due to the prospect of political change in the country.
“I wish to assure everyone that there is nothing to fear in the change that we seek. We have no intention to engage in retribution, and we are only driven by the genuine patriotic spirit to ensure peace, stability and growth.
“Change will be good for everyone. Change will allow everyone to pursue and live their dreams under the protection of the State,” Tsvangirai has said.
Mutasa also warned Tsvangirai yesterday that he did not need to hurry the formation of the mooted grand opposition alliance, as there was the possibility of this alliance being infiltrated by the ruling Zanu PF.
“The way that they want to go about forming a coalition zvakadhakwa (it is a big problem). They should stand as separate parties and then only form a coalition after the elections,” he said.
Two years ago, Mutasa also made stunning revelations that he and other Zanu PF officials had been left numbed after Tsvangirai’s swept to victory in the 2008 elections.
“I immediately drove, at speed and alone, from my home in Rusape, to State House in Harare. I was terrified, I had to go and protect the president (Mugabe) from harm as we were frightened Tsvangirai would do what he said he would do and march to State House. If he had, no policeman would have stopped him.
“Instead,” Mutasa laughed, “Tsvangirai went to Botswana.”
“I don’t know how much cheating there was in those elections, but I do know that in 2013 (Finance minister) Patrick Chinamasa cheated to win. He bussed people in (to vote for him.) I protested to him and to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
“We will never know how many people voted for Zanu PF out of fear. I didn’t know there was fear in those days. I now see it myself. And there is a lot of fear. And I must say, again, I am very, very sorry. That I must stand up to be counted,” he added then.
“Secrecy still binds me, from when I was minister. But, of course, you know that some waiters in hotels work for the CIO. Your phones are listened to a lot. The CIO is huge,” Mutasa added.-Dailynews