Zimbabwean National Army Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda has called on the military to remain on high alert to defend the country from what he described as "recolonization" efforts by Great Britain and the United States.
Sibanda told army recruits this weekend that the two countries were working with, “our misguided brothers and sisters as their agents” to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
This appeared to be a veiled reference to the Movement for Democratic Change, whose two wings are sharing power with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
Sibanda told the recruits to stand ready to defend Zimbabwe, adding that “we say no to regime change,” the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported.
Spokesman Nhlanhla Dube of the MDC formation headed by Welshman Ncube told VOA reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that Sibanda’s remarks were misguided because Harare is under no threat from the United States or from Britain.
"We respect the constitutional role of the military, and we urge military leaders to also respect each institution as it should be," Dube said.
Thabitha Khumalo, a spokeswoman for the MDC formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said statements like Sibanda’s are the reason why the former opposition has been pushing for reform of the national security sector before elections are held.
Commenting, political analyst Charles Mangongera said the army is now using threats to silence dissenting voices because it fears a democratic transition.
Elsewhere, President Mugabe swore in Lucia Mativenga of the Tsvangirai MDC as public service minister, replacing the late Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, and Seiso Moyo as deputy agriculture minister, filling the position Mr. Tsvangirai had designated for party treasurer Roy Bennett when the unity government was launched in 2009.