MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has saluted former Ghanaian military ruler Jerry John Rawlings who twice grabbed power and twice handed the power to a civil Government in the West African country, saying Zimbabwean army bosses had a lot to learn from Rawlings.
Chamisa spokes yesterday after signing the book of condolences at the Ghanaian embassy following the death of former military boss and ex-President of the west African country.
Rawlings, who died last week aged 73, was a military officer and politician who led Ghana from 1981 to 2001 and also for a brief period in 1979. He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected president of Ghana.
“He teaches us a very important lesson particularly in Zimbabwe that it is important for the military to play a role that is progressive and defending civilian authority and not replace civilian authority,” Chamisa said.
“The fact that he was able to allow for a smooth handover-takeover and having allowed people to vote, we salute him and we hope that in Zimbabwe, we are not going to continue to see the replacement of the ballot by the bullet or the replacement of the voice of the people in villages and in communities by the sound of the gun.
“Let it be about the people, about the civilians defining who they want to govern them and not the military,” Chamisa said.
Zimbabwe’s politics has been dominated by the military since 2002 when the country’s top military bosses declared that they would not recognise a leader without liberation war credentials, in reference to then MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai.
The army also played a key role in removing the late former President Robert Mugabe from power via a military coup in November 2017, an event which was however fully endorsed by Chamisa and all other key opposition MPs and the ordinary masses.
Chamisa added: “We stand in solidarity with the people of Ghana and the President of Ghana on the untimely loss of a giant in Africa.
“The first thing that we celebrate as we remember him (Rawlings) is his ability to be an answer to repression.
“Of course, it was a military response but people had suffered and what he did most fundamentally was to be able to hand over authority and power to civilian establishment and that is the most important thing that he did.
“To end dictatorship and making sure democracy is made possible, so we salute him for his contribution to democracy and making it a reality and setting Ghana on the path of stability, on the path of democracy and civilian authority.
“Most importantly, he managed to set some of the institutional markers to issues of handover-takeover.
“When he came in, he was the one who introduced the issue of having a definite day for handover, so on January 7, there has to be handover-takeover in Ghana, but a month before that, there has to be an election.
“He reminded most African leaders that it is important to lead and leave which is a problem with other African leaders who do not want to leave power.” ■