Zimbabwean human rights groups have expressed grave concern at remarks made by ZANU-PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and an army general seemingly advocating violence shortly after leaders of parties in the unity government advocated peace.
President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Industry Minister Welshman Ncube urged their supporters in a large meeting of party officials on Friday, November 11, to be tolerant and to halt mounting political violence.
But later that same day Army Chief of Staff Major General Martin Chedondo addressed the Presidential Guard and vowed there would be no security sector reform.
Chedondo called the Movement for Democratic Change party of Mr. Tsvangirai a "Trojan horse" and vowed there would be bloodshed if anyone tried to remove ZANU-PF from the power it held for decades before the advent of power sharing in 2009.
Khaya Moyo instructed ZANU-PF supporters at Mkoba Teachers College on Sunday in Gweru, Midlands province, to retaliate if they were attacked.
Khaya Moyo told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that he does not expect ZANU-PF supporters to wait for the police to intervene if they are attacked.
“I said there must be no violence. If of course you are attacked yourself what else should you do? Do you pray?” Khaya Moyo said.
When asked if people should go to the police when attacked, Khaya Moyo responded: “Why should you go to the police when you are down and you are being beaten. Why do you go to the police? The rule of law says you must die and then go to the police?"
The Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee has promised to act on complaints about the army, the police and political parties regarding political violence.
JOMIC Co-Chairwoman Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga said the panel has instructed Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to communicate to Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri that the committee wants to speak with them about the conduct of the army and police.
JOMIC Co-Chairman Elton Mangoma, representing the Tsvangirai MDC formation, said Khaya Moyo's statement was unfortunate as it promoted vigilantism.'
“From a senior member of a political party that only last week on Friday was calling for peace it is very irresponsible, if he has said so," Mangoma said.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association Director Okay Machisa said the principals in the country's national unity government must sanction the perpetrators of violence.
“You find the chairperson of ZANU-PF, Mr. Khaya Moyo, saying hit back when you are attacked. We should not be saying any words like attack, hit back because we should be singing the same hymn which the leaders are saying in the forum," Machisa said.
The comments by General Chedondo followed a statement last week by US Ambassador Charles Ray that Zimbabwe needs a professional army which stays out of politics.
"In general the Zimbabwe military is quite skilled but I'm troubled at times that many in the senior ranks do take very partisan views and positions which body on interference on the nation's political life," Ray told VOA in an interview.