Zim general calls prime minister a security risk

By Time of article published Jun 24, 2011

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A ZIMBABWEAN general has described the country’s prime minister as a security threat and accused him of taking instructions from Westerners that endanger national security, in an interview published yesterday by a state-run newspaper.

Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba told The Herald newspaper that the military would do anything to keep longtime President Robert Mugabe in power.

“We will die for him to make sure he remains in power,” The Herald quoted him as saying. The Herald is a mouthpiece for Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.

Nyikayaramba, a member of the Joint Operational Command of generals and police chiefs, said the military and Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party were inseparable.

Mugabe joined a troubled coalition in 2009 with Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader. Tsvangirai on Sunday accused the military of bias and meddling in politics.

In the past, Nyikayaramba has acted as unofficial spokesman for the usually secretive Joint Operational Command, which is often seen as the real power behind Mugabe, 87.

Top military officials have repeatedly said they would not serve under Tsvangirai if he became president because he did not take part in the guerrilla war that ended white rule at independence in 1980.

Military commanders have refused to salute Tsvangirai on state occasions.

Nyikayaramba, a former guerrilla in the seven-year bush war, said the military now viewed Tsvangirai as a security threat for his ties with Western nations demanding Mugabe’s ousting. “Tsvangirai does not pose a political threat in any way, but is a major security threat… taking instructions from foreigners who seek to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Tsvangirai and several independent rights groups blame the army and the police loyal to Mugabe for political violence and human rights violations in a decade of political and economic turmoil that led to Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown.

Nyikayaramba also accused Tsvangirai of seeking to overturn Zimbabwe’s successes in becoming independent.

“Daydreamers who want to reverse the gains of our liberation struggle… can go to hell, they will never rule this country,” he said.

Nyikayaramba said the military would ensure Mugabe re- mains in office.

“We cannot keep quiet,” Nyikayaramba said. “As the security forces, we will not sit back and watch things going wrong. President Mugabe will only leave office when he sees it fit or dies.”

Mugabe, who has ruled since independence, has called for elections this year to end the coalition, but has been put under pressure from regional leaders to complete electoral and constitutional reforms first. Regional leaders have rebuked Mugabe’s party for unleashing violence and intimidation against opponents and delaying reforms.

At a summit earlier this month, the leaders endorsed those criticisms by the chief Zimbabwe mediator, President Jacob Zuma.

Tsvangirai responded on Sunday by saying Mugabe lied about the summit’s outcome. Hardliners in Mugabe’s party this week called for Tsvangirai’s arrest for insulting the president, an offence under sweeping security laws.

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