CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday spoke out against the “partisan political toxification” of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and urged security forces to serve national interests.

Chamisa made the call in an opinion piece to mark the ZDF Day commemorations held at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.

“Soldiers, like the Police Service, Prison Service and Intelligence Service, are badges of patriotism, symbols of the State and an embodiment of the collective will of a people. The security forces are above party politics. You stand for the country, not the party,” he said.

“Except in rare moments when partisan politics toxifies the esteemed defence forces establishment, I, with pride and honour, salute our men and women in uniform for their versatility and adeptness in defending national and regional security,” he said.

The opposition has been calling for security sector reforms.

Critics and the opposition have argued that reforming the country’s security sector was key to ensuring that the 2023 elections were credible, free and fair.

The security forces have a long history of partisanship on behalf of Zanu PF.

Since independence in 1980, the army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation have operated within a system that has allowed elements within their ranks to arrest, torture and kill perceived opponents of the ruling party with impunity.

CCC interim spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere yesterday said the country’s unformed forces were being undermined by partisan politics.

“We call on the defence forces to remember their constitutional mandate to the people of Zimbabwe. We ask that they act in a manner that serves the interests of all Zimbabweans by fully complying with their constitutional obligation to respect the lives and dignity of all people in the execution of their duties,” Mahere said in a statement.

“Under the incoming citizen government, weapons and arms of war will never be deployed to support a political party’s partisan interests or impede the citizens’ rights to demonstrate fully. Instead, our defence forces will support collective national interests taking due cognisance of the fundamental rights and diversity of the citizenry.”

In 2018, soldiers were deployed to the streets to put down post-election protests.

Six citizens were shot dead.

In January 2019, soldiers also fired live ammunition during the nationwide anti-fuel price hike protests, killing 17 people according to human rights activists.

The soldiers, who opened fire in the two incidents, were never arrested.

Source Newsday