Zimbabwe under siege: ED asserts  

AS POLITICAL tension continues to mount in Zimbabwe, President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed yesterday that there was a plot to divide the country’s security forces in an alleged bid to fuel national instability, the Daily News reports.
This came a day after Mnangagwa also lashed out at what he termed “renegades” within and outside the country, in his Heroes Day address — whom he said were bent on derailing Zimbabwe’s economic recovery.
It also came as there have been claims, mainly on social media, that some members of the security forces were allegedly willing to participate in the failed July 31 mass protests by the opposition and civil society groups.
In an address to mark Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day at State House yesterday, Mnangagwa said the country was under siege from detractors.
“Today, we celebrate the numerous achievements scored over the last 40 years since the formation of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
“This occasion is happening against the backdrop of successive accomplishments by our Defence Forces to defend our motherland Zimbabwe from detractors, divisive elements and enemies.
“The commemorations which we are holding this year … are taking place under yet another wave of aggression — manifesting itself through illegal sanctions, hostile anti-Zimbabwe propaganda mounted on social media platforms, and other forms of asymmetrical warfare meant to break the unity within our forces,” Mnangagwa said.
He did not provide further details about the alleged plot and how it was meant to be executed.
However, he said he was grateful that Zimbabweans had remained “calm and peaceful” despite the call for last month’s failed mass demonstrations.
“Thank you, once again for remaining calm and peaceful in the wake of some misguided calls for violent protests and demonstrations by opposition elements with support from foreign and civil society supporters and backers.
“You have shown your patriotism and love for peace and tranquillity,” Mnangagwa said.
The president, who came into power via a popular military coup that ousted the late former President Robert
Mugabe from office in November 2017, said the deadly coronavirus pandemic had exacerbated the challenges facing the ZDF — as some of its key figures had succumbed to the disease.
“This has been coupled with the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Sadly, the virus has claimed some decorated members of the ZDF family in the name of Air Chief Marshal (Rtd) Perrance Shiri — who was a long time commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe and minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement — and the ZDF director of public relations, Colonel Overson Mugwisi, among others,” Mnangagwa said.
He also said the government was committed to improving the salaries and benefits of members of the defence forces.
This comes after authorities recently pampered all soldiers and members of the police force — giving them between $5 000 and $8 000 coronavirus allowances — which critics claimed were allegedly meant to appease them ahead of the failed July 31 protests.
“I am aware of the sacrificial nature and service ethos of the Defence Forces. However, my administration remains determined to improve the salaries and conditions of service for our forces.
“Housing, transport and medical facilities, among other requirements, are being improved in recognition of the role and sacrifices made by our Defence Forces in the conduct of their duties,” Mnangagwa said.
He added that the ZDF had executed its duties with distinction, high professionalism, vigilance, loyalty, commitment and dedication to its constitutional obligation of defending the country and its people, despite the myriad challenges it faced.
However, security forces have faced widespread criticism for being allegedly partisan and for cracking down on dissenting voices since the August 2018 shootings which resulted in the death of six civilians — as well as the January 2019 protests which led to death of over a dozen people and the injury of many others.
“In September 2019, the ZDF participated in the Ligwalagwala Air Show in Eswatini, while preparations for participation in the Russian International Military Games and Special Forces Exercise CHOMELA — to be held in the Republic of Botswana — are at advanced stages.
“Their involvement in these international activities exposes our forces to the use of modern military equipment, as
well as strengthening ties between our forces and allies.
“Additionally, memories of Cyclone Idai in 2019 bring to mind the Defence Forces’ significant role in search and rescue operations, as well as the provision of food and medical assistance to flood victims.
“They have also helped in restoring the damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and clinics,” Mnangagwa said.
“All these activities demonstrate the commitment of the Defence Forces to serve the nation and the close relationship that exists between them and the generality of the Zimbabwean population.
“This rich history of assisting communities is commendable and must continue to be the hallmark of our Defence Forces,” he added.

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