SPECULATION was this week rife that the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Mandi Chimene, had fled the country after the military this week rounded up what it described as criminals around President Mugabe.
Chimene has been one of the vocal figures in calling for the purging of axed Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF politicians linked to the former VP.
However, it has since turned out that the Provincial Affairs minister is in China on the Zimbabwe-China Friendship Association business. When contacted yesterday, she said there was no need for her to flee the country as she had not committed any criminal offence.
“I will be back on Wednesday, November 23. Why should I skip the country I fought for? I have not committed any crime at all. I am a Zimbabwean and I am coming back home soonest. What exactly is happening? I am with the Manicaland delegation on the Zimbabwe-China Friendship Association business,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces announced early Wednesday morning that they had taken action to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in the country which if left unchecked would have resulted in violent conflict. The ZDF said the intervention was not a coup, but corrective action targeted at criminals around President Mugabe. The director in Chimene’s office, Mr Kennedy Mugarisanwa, also confirmed the China trip and said it was a Government-sponsored trip.
Mr Magirisanwa said: “As you are aware, Chimene is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe-China Friendship Association, she was invited on official business. They usually go there annually and the time was due. Her delegation includes personnel from local authorities, the business community and other sectors. I am not sure of the actual number of her delegation. You can check with her secretary on the trip’s schedule. I know that the trip was being co-ordinated by Mutasa Rural District Council chief executive officer, Mr George Bandure. It was a Government-sponsored trip,” he said.
Addressing the nation on ZBCTV early Tuesday morning, ZDF spokesperson, Major General Sibusiso Busi Moyo, who was flanked by Air Vice-Marshall Jacob Nzvede urged people to go about their normal business, but limit unnecessary movement.
“To both our people and the world beyond our borders, we wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover of Government. What the Zimbabwe Defence Forces is doing is to pacify a degenerating political, social and economic situation in our country which if not addressed may result in violent conflict,” Maj-Gen Moyo said.
At the Forbes Border Post, there has been heavy presence of military personnel since Wednesday morning. Forbes Border post is Zimbabwe’s gateway to neighbouring Mozambique through Mutare, the country’s fourth largest city. A check by The Manica Post showed that although business is being conducted as usual with haulage trucks coming in and out of the country through the border post, heavily armed soldiers in combat regalia are milling around the vicinity of the border post with two security check points – less than 300 metres apart – on the tarmac leading to the border post.
The security check points are manned by uniformed soldiers. Soldiers at the security check points are asking for identity documents and purpose of visit from passers-by before being allowed to progress. A small group of about six police officers seen near the border post on Wednesday were clearly not concentrating with goings-on around the soldiers, seemingly discussing their own issues.
In Mutare city and all parts of Manicaland, it was business as usual, with all operations being at normal. Commuters were busy with their daily chores, businesses were open, while students, both at schools and tertiary being busy with their examinations that there would be no disruptions of everyday operations.
Maj-Gen Moyo said: “To the generality of the people of Zimbabwe, we urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual.
“Our wish is that you enjoy your rights and freedoms and that we return our country to a dispensation that allows for investment, development and prosperity that we all fought for and for which many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice,” he added.
Maj-Gen Moyo assured other arms of the State that their actions were meant to protect their independence. “To the civil servants, as you are aware, there is a plan by the same individuals to influence the current purging which is place in the political sphere to the civil service. We are against that act of injustice and we intend to protect every one of you against that.”
Meanwhile, Zanu-PF national youth league secretary, Kudzanai Chipanga, has apologised to ZDF Commander, General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga and the ZDF hierarchy for his Tuesday’s remarks in which he denigrated them. Chipanga has since distanced himself as the author of the statement and said it was handed over to him by one Rodney Dangarembizi.
Chipanga had slammed Gen Chiwenga and ZDF saying: “All those in the security sector fatigues who wish to engage in politics are free to throw their hats in the ring and not hide behind the barrel of the gun.”