One of Zimbabwe’s Army Commander Generals who vowed not to salute Prime minister Morgan Tsvangira, Vitalis Zvinavashe has died. He was 66.
Zvinavashe, a 1970’s liberation war hero had been ill for some time and died at an army hospital in Manyame.
Zvinavashe was one of dozens of top Zanu PF officials who lost their seats in the March 29 general elections last year to a resurgent MDC, which went on to claim a parliamentary majority for the first time since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Following his defeat, Zvinavashe had been concentrating on his businesses — he owned a transport company, ran a number of private schools and was a successful commercial farmer. One of the schools he owned, Tynwald Primary School, had the highest pass rate in Zimbabwe last year for Grade 7 results.
While still head of the army, Zvinavashe once vowed never to salute Morgan Tsvangirai if he defeated President Robert Mugabe in the 2002 presidential elections.
Zvinavashe said the country’s security organisations would only support political leaders who “pursue Zimbabwean values, traditions (and) beliefs for which thousands of lives were lost in pursuit of Zimbabwe’s hard-won independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interest”.
“To this end, let it be known that the highest office in the land is a straight jacket whose occupant is expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle. We will, therefore, not accept, let alone support or salute anyone with a different agenda that threatens (the) very existence of our sovereignty, our country and our people,” he said in comments carried on national television.
The statement implied that the security chiefs would not accept the results of the presidential election if the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won.
Tsvangirai is now Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister after entering a unity government with President Robert Mugabe last month.
Zvinavashe is survived by his wife Margaret and 12 children.