President Robert Mugabe issued a stern warning to his political opposition in a speech Tuesday saying the army was ready to “pull the trigger” to put down any insurrection.
“Be warned,” Mr. Mugabe declared in remarks to a military audience on Defense Day, breaking into the vernacular Shona language from English for this part of his speech. “We have armed men and women who can pull the trigger.”
The faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by party founding resident Morgan Tsvangirai has promised to organize national mass protests aimed at ending Mr. Mugabe's rule if he does not adopt broad democratic reforms. The MDC program has been bolstered by an undertaking by five opposition parties and civic groups to form a close alliance to confront the Mugabe administration.
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to defense spokesman Giles Mutsekwa of the MDC, who was accused in March of plotting to assassinate the president in a legal case that quickly collapsed – for a response to the president’s warning that he was prepared to use deadly force to put down an insurrection.
Mr. Mugabe said the country's economic and diplomatic alliance with China under its "Look East” policy has brought benefits for the armed forces in terms of equipment and training. But he acknowledged that Western sanctions have hurt the country's armed forces, which are cut off from U.S., British and European suppliers.
Mr. Mugabe pledged continual review of military compensation to offset inflation last seen just under 1,000%. For interpretation of Mr. Mugabe's remarks, reporter Zulu spoke with correspondent Helmoed-Romer Heitman of Janes Defense Weekly.