Advocate Thabani Mpofu Demands Retraction From Army Commander Over Partisan Statements

By Judith Matanire

Advocate Thabani Mpofu, known for his legal representation of Nelson Chamisa during the 2018 election dispute, has penned a stern letter to Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) commander Lieutenant General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, condemning recent partisan remarks made at a ZANU PF rally in Nyanga.

In the letter dated July 3, 2024, Mpofu demanded an immediate withdrawal of what he deemed politically charged statements.

The letter, titled “RE: Your Partisan and Politically Charged Utterances,” highlighted excerpts from Sanyatwe’s address at the rally, where he allegedly stated, “ZANU (PF) shall rule until donkeys grow horns… We shall use what is called Command Voting.”

Mpofu contended that such declarations violated constitutional provisions, including Section 208(2) which prohibits members of security services from partisan involvement and furthering political party interests.

Citing constitutional breaches, Mpofu emphasized that Sanyatwe’s remarks not only demonstrated partisan bias but also threatened electoral integrity, potentially influencing voting outcomes unfairly. He invoked Section 155 of the Constitution and the Electoral Act, arguing that Sanyatwe’s comments hinted at election manipulation in favor of ZANU (PF), undermining democratic principles.

The advocate’s letter warned of legal action should Sanyatwe fail to retract his statements within seven days. Mpofu asserted, “I shall take steps to ensure that appropriate remedies under law are put in motion,” underscoring the seriousness with which the issue is regarded in legal and constitutional terms.

Sanyatwe, a controversial figure implicated in the 2018 post-election violence, where soldiers allegedly shot and killed six civilians during protests, has previously faced scrutiny for his involvement in political matters. Despite being promoted under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration, his return to a prominent military role has reignited concerns over the military’s impartiality in Zimbabwean politics.

Observers view Mpofu’s intervention as part of broader efforts to uphold constitutional order and safeguard electoral processes from undue military influence. The demand for withdrawal comes amidst heightened political tensions in Zimbabwe, where opposition parties and civil society groups continue to advocate for fair and transparent elections.

As the deadline for Sanyatwe’s response approaches, stakeholders await developments, with Mpofu’s letter serving as a catalyst for public debate on the role of the military in Zimbabwean politics and the enforcement of constitutional norms. Nhau/Indaba

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