A senior Zimbabwe army officer has stepped up verbal hostilities against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, accusing him of being a threat to national security.
Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba told the state-controlled, pro-ZANU-PF Herald newspaper that Mr. Tsvangirai is a Western creation and is being used to further regime change efforts, so he must not be taken as a political figure but as a security threat.
"Tsvangirai doesn't pose a political threat in any way in Zimbabwe, but is a major security threat," Nyikayaramba told the newspaper. "He takes instructions from foreigners who seek to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe."
He said such this has "invited the security forces to be involved because we want to ensure we protect our national security interests. When he said Mugabe must go peacefully or else forcefully, was that democratic or constitutional?"
He continued: "Daydreamers who want to reverse the gains of our liberation struggle will continue daydreaming ... can go to hell ... they will never rule this country."
The general said President Robert Mugabe, 87, should be president for life.
His comments followed a statement by the prime minister to supporters in Gweru, in the province of Midlands, that top brass who wish to challenge him politically should remove their uniforms instead of seeking to intimidate the Zimbabwean electorate.
Mr. Tsvangirai, currently in Spain attending a forum on justice, repeated his comments of Sunday saying the country's security heads are improperly meddling in politics.
"Everyday, they are dabbling in politics, even seeking to influence the date of the election and the conditions under which that election will be held," he said.
He said that when Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana state publicly that the support a particular political party when a unity government is in place, "people lose confidence in the institutions they lead."
Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that Nyikayaramba’s statement did not represent the army but was a personal opinion.
Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of Mr. Tsvangirai's formation of the Movement for Democratic Change said the MDC takes statements like Nyikarayamba's seriously.
Retired Zimbabwean army colonel Martin Rupiya said Nyikarayamba was speaking for President Mugabe's former ruling ZANU-PF party.