ZimRights welcomes ZDF statement of neutrality

THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has welcomed the statement made by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 in which the military clarified that it will not interfere with the 2018 harmonised election.
ZimRights welcomed the pronouncement by the ZDF’s director of public relations, Overson Mugwisi, that the army will uphold the Constitution.
“To begin with, members of the public should be made aware that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has no direct role in the upcoming harmonised elections…if some serving members are participating in the ongoing political campaigns, they will be doing so illegally and not as a result of an instruction from their commanders,” Mugwisi reportedly said.
The Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013, in Section 211(3) enjoins the army to conduct their duties in a professional manner by respecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to civilian rule.
ZimRights said it hoped that, apart from pledging loyalty to the constitution, the army will keep its pledge which is crucial to peaceful elections and actively seek out and censure members of the defence forces, who are deviating from this position.
Zimbabwean citizens still have fear and trauma of how the army has been previously involved in elections, which requires to make sure the assurance is widely communicated to the public and to the members of the ZDF.
This includes ensuring that retired military personnel, who have entered active politics, do not exert influence on serving members of the ZDF to carry out political campaigns.
“While the army says that they have a role to support the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) with logistics, ZimRights hopes that the army will ensure the assistance will not be used as an excuse and cover up by people in its ranks to interfere with the elections.
Other security agencies such as the police and intelligence services should equally commit themselves to act constitutionally and professionally. ZimRights hopes that the utterances by the army will usher in a new sustainable culture, where the country’s security services protect every Zimbabwean and the national interest, without political bias,” the human rights body said in a statement.