HARARE-- The Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) has refuted allegations that it will rig the July 30 elections, saying it supports President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The opposition MDC Alliance alleged during its protest march last month that the army was deployed to Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission and at opposition campaign rallies.

The army told the media in Harare Wednesday that if serving members were participating in political campaigns they were doing so illegally, and would be disciplined.

The ZDF said soldiers had not been ordered to intimidate people in rural areas into voting for some political parties, adding that the reports are mischievous.

If some serving members (of the ZDF) are participating in the on-going political campaigns, they are doing so illegally and not as a result of an instruction from commanders. Those with information on such misconduct must provide us with full details of such individuals for appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against them, said ZDF spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi.

The army has also detailed its current deployments which include clearing of landmines, serving as park rangers and construction of schools and clinics. It says it has no direct role in the upcoming elections.

Our role in the elections is mainly to support the Zimbabwe Republic Police in their role of the maintenance of law and order in the country before, during and after the harmonised elections, we also remain ready to support the the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission with transport.

The army says soldiers will only be seen at political events attended by VIPs presumably for security, and humanitarian work. While soldiers have the right to vote they have been reminded they cannot hold political positions unless they are retired.

The opposition has welcomed this.

They have been saluting not Nelson Chamisa but the authority I carry so I am not worried they are a patriotic army; in fact I respect them. If there is one thing that tickles me it is the honour of our men and boys in uniform, they are my agenda number one they are not getting what is commensurate with the smart work they are doing, I have no problem with soldiers, says MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.

Meanwhile, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the 15-nation sub-regional grouping of countries in southern Africa, is confident the blast in Bulawayo was an isolated incident .

South African President Cyrile Ramaphosa, the cuurent SADC chairperson, said this week: I've had extensive discussions with President Mnangagwa soon after the hand grenade explosion as well as during the (recent AU) summit, I think those who sought to attack and kill were making an assault on democracy, we are pleased that he survived, it seems that it was a once off, otherwise I am confident that they will have a peaceful election."