A former Cabinet minister has warned President Robert Mugabe that his threats to retire the military chiefs he accuses of meddling in Zanu PF politics betrays a man who has lost control of this powerful constituency.
Former Home Affairs co-minister Giles Mutsekwa, a former army major, said Mugabe should have invited the generals to a meeting instead of publicly embarrassing them.
Mutsekwa served as Home Affairs minister during the era of the stability-inducing unity government.
“He invited the army into politics. But if he has seen the light like all of us had all along, then he must summon them to his office and say look, zvandanga ndiri kuita izvi ndezve ubenzi (I have been acting stupid) and the proper thing is for you to stay clear of politics.
“The point is, a commander-in-chief does not warn or caution his top-ranking generals at a political rally when he has all the space and democratic right to invite them and tell them that he wants a change of course,” Mutsekwa told the Daily News.
“He is the one who made them believe that you can join politics whilst you are in uniform by inviting their predecessors into the politburo and they have been following.
“To the military, this is what we have been saying, you have a commander-in-chief who does not respect your position and who uses you and dumps you.
Now, he thinks because he has the support of the youths, he thinks these generals and everyone else are old and he can dump them. He now wants to rely on the youth, that is unfair,” added Mutsekwa, who is secretary for security in the MDC.
Mutsekwa said Mugabe who meets service chiefs every Monday in their weekly Joint Operations Command (Joc) meetings could have easily used such platform to address the issue.
“The other thing is that he literally announces that those people will be retired but look, these people did not sign their contracts in a stadium in Chinhoyi. They signed their contracts in a respectable office… Mugabe, why are you doing that?
“Why are you embarrassing your generals? It’s not proper for a commander-in-chief to do that.”
“To the generals and the rest of the military officers, that’s not a proper commander-in-chief,” said Mutsekwa.
In his address to tens of thousands of Zanu PF supporters in his home province of Mashonaland West in Chinhoyi on Saturday, Mugabe threatened to retire the generals for meddling in his party’s politics.
“We give immense respect to our defence forces. Most of those in leadership are persons we were with outside the country and we continue to respect them as revolutionaries.
“Yes, they will retire and we must find room for them in government so they don’t languish, so they continue the struggle now, political struggle together with all of us in the leadership of the country and this is what we expect to happen,” Mugabe told Zanu PF supporters.