Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo yesterday hit back at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga, for threatening him over his stance on the command agriculture programme.
Chiwenga on Monday threatened unspecified action against Moyo, labelling the minister “an enemy of the State” for his criticism of command agriculture, which is being spearheaded by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chiwenga accused Moyo of trying to destroy Zanu PF from within, but the minister took to Twitter yesterday posting a cryptic message that many thought was directed at the army boss.
“Kuvhunduka chati kwatara hunge une katurikwa,” Moyo posted in Shona, which, loosely translated, means a person panics if he has something to hide.
Moyo did not respond to messages sent to him by NewsDay seeking his comment over Chiwenga’s threats.
The military is involved in command agriculture, which Moyo has dismissed as “command ugly culture”.
Zanu PF spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo last night refused to comment on Chiwenga and Moyo’s public spat, preferring to say it was not a Zanu PF issue.
“It is not a party matter, I cannot comment further,” he said.
Opposition parties and ordinary citizens warned that the country was in danger of descending into civil strife in the wake of the public threat against Moyo.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said factional fights in Zanu PF posed a threat to national security.
“The situation has dangerously deteriorated and, as we have stated before, the factional fights within Zanu PF are now a major threat to State security. If this situation is not handled carefully, it can actually erupt into a deadly civil war,” he said.
The People’s Democratic Party said it was irked by Chiwenga’s incessant interference in civilian processes instead of focusing on the core business of the defence forces as outlined in section 212 of the Constitution.
“The function of the defence forces is to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold this Constitution,” the party said in a statement.
“Many times, Chiwenga utters political and partisan words against the dictates of the Constitution. He frequents Zanu PF rallies, at one point he was referred to by Mnangagwa as a commissar of Zanu PF. We find this despicable and unacceptable.
“Chiwenga is offside; he argues that whatever Mugabe pronounces at a rally, whether in Mutare or Marondera, cannot be a wrong programme. Such kind of analysis is not only dangerous, but depicts the highest level of living in a distorted reality.”
MDC spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi said Chiwenga’s utterances were a manifestation of Zanu PF’s death pangs.
“The threats by the general have shown us the depth of the wound that will take Zanu PF to the grave,” he said.
Moyo has consistently rubbished Mnangagwa’s much-vaunted command agriculture, arguing it was a ploy by a Zanu PF faction pushing for the Vice-President to succeed Mugabe and to militarise State institutions.
Political scientist, Eldred Masunungure said the Zanu PF factional fights could have taken a sinister and dangerous turn.
“The fights have taken a vicious twist. The military sees itself as part of a conflated system given the historical ties between Zanu PF and those who fought in the war,” he said.
“Assuming that Chiwenga is speaking on behalf of the rank and file of the military, he probably believes that there is a real threat to the party and government.
“While the involvement of the military is not new, it has been covert rather than overt, but now there is a real threat it could turn physical. Citizens would be justified to feel scared of criticising the establishment.”
Political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa said Chiwenga had taken sides in the internal Zanu PF struggle for power, which might backfire.
“What remains to be seen is whether his voice will tilt in favour of Lacoste (the faction loyal to Mnangagwa),” Hamauswa said. “I think, instead of advancing Mnangagwa’s aspirations to take over, his utterances will backfire, as long as Mugabe is in charge.”