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Military should be part of political talks: Chamisa

The military should be part of political talks to resolve Zimbabwe’s two-decade-long political and economic crisis, opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Nelson Chamisa, told journalists in Bulawayo Tuesday.

In May last year, ZANU-PF and some opposition parties launched the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) ostensibly to resolve the country’s challenges.

The main opposition party, MDC has since refused to be part of POLAD demanding that instead, an independent facilitator should lead the process.

Addressing journalists at Bulawayo Press Club, Chamisa, who has said his party remained open to genuine talks with ZANU-PF, said his party felt the military should also be incorporated into the dialogue as part of the security sector reform agenda.

“Issues of security sector involvement in civilian issues and international processes is a big issue as part of comprehensive reform agenda,” said Chamisa.

“We have even gone further and said let the military also be part of the negotiated process through dialogue.”

The MDC president said the military has always had a role to play in Zimbabwean politics, adding its inclusion into the talks was key.

“If you look at the history of this country, the military has always been at the centre of political processes but we need to be able to be clear on what the role of the military is so that there is clear demarcation between civilian and military relations,” said Chamisa.

“As it is there is discourse at the level of ZANU-PF and the military but there is no discourse at the national level so that the MDC or other political players and citizens are clear on what parameters the army should play or the army should not cross.”

Chamisa further said: “You are aware that in 2002 there was a public statement by the military that they would not salute any civilian leader. That has not been revoked, it stands up to today. But we want to understand the basis of that because it is not backed by the constitution.”

The MDC leader said the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)’s 2017 “Operation Restore Legacy,” which led to the ‘resignation’ of the later former president Robert Mugabe, did not have constitutional backing.

“You are aware that Mr [Constantino] Chiwenga (former ZDF commander) made a public statement, I think just before Mr Mugabe’s resignation and exit to say that theirs was “Operation Restore Legacy,” but it was to restore legacy within a party and they wanted to rescue a political party,” said Chamisa.

“We want to understand the basis of this because the involvement of the army should be according to the Constitution, around territorial integrity, sovereignty of the nation and not to do with political parties or even who the people vote for.”

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