By Lerato Ndlovu
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has denied reports that it had taken over Bulawayo on Tuesday.
This follows claims that state security forces had forced Bulawayo residents in the central business district to go back home amid to avoid a ‘planned protest’ by some citizens over the deteriorating economic situation in the country.
In a statement issued yesterday, ZNA Public Relations Deputy Director Major Alex Zuva dismissed the claims saying that some online news publications ran a couple of stories based on wrong information.
“The Army has noted with grave concern the levels and rate of misinformation that continues to be peddled mostly by online news agencies, Bulawayo24 ran a series of stories to the effect that the army had taken over the City of Bulawayo.
“This is a blatant lie as the army was and is till assisting the police to enforce lockdown regulations in order to contain the COVID 19 pandemic, “reads the statement.
It adds on to say: “The publications went on to proffer possible scenarios that could have led to the so-called takeover by theorizing that the soldiers were angry because of the pay cut. Note that there was no salary cuts to the soldiers or civil servants. The back pay was communicated when it commenced and it has always been public knowledge that it was going to end in May 2020.”
Major Zuva also dismissed reports that the uniformed forces assaulted ordinary citizens.
“The Army knows that there has always been an agenda to link members of the defence forces with negative issues as part of the calculated regime change agenda. All operations that the Army carries out are sanctioned and in line with its Constitutional mandate which is to ensure the safety of the public and their property. In no circumstance does the Army go about beating innocent civilians as purported in the series of false stories on the so-called Bulawayo takeover.
“All media organizations are free to ask for correct information from the Army and report objectively all the times,” the statement reads. ”There has been an increase of negative stories of late in which the media has tried to be subversive and capitalise on the hardships that have been caused by the Corona Virus induced lockdown to raise public emotions and anger against the Army and the Government.
“As a professional Organisation, the Army will always deliver on its constitutional mandate to safeguard the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe,” he said.