Zimbabwe military posture spells electoral doom

Zimbabwe military posture spells electoral doom
Published: 21 April 2017 (222 Views)
ZIMBABWE'S 2013 constitution expressly bars serving military chiefs from dabbling in politics, but this has not stopped the senior commanders from using their lofty pedestals to do the political bidding of the ruling Zanu-PF.

Already, the army bigwigs have taken a political stand against the democratic opposition ahead of next year's national election.

Last week, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantino Chiwenga, while addressing mourners at a funeral parade for national hero Brigadier-General James Jotham Murozvi, said Zanu-PF would continue to build upon the role of war veterans, comments which show the military will always play a role in the political affairs of the country.

Chiwenga said: "War veterans are the ideological school of the nation, custodians of the revolution and the bedrock upon which Zanu-PF shall continue to rely on."

"Your (Brig-Gen Murozvi) blood has indeed watered the Zimbabwe flag as we used to sing during the war of liberation," Chiwenga said. "You have fought your fight.

"Ours is to continue it, pursuing with vigour our role as the veterans of the liberation struggle, of being the ideological school of the nation, custodians of the revolution and the bedrock upon which our party, Zanu-PF, shall continue to build itself for as long as we survive."

Chiwenga's comments are in flagrant violation of Section 211 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which stipulates that: "The Defence Forces must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all persons and be non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this Constitution."

Although the Zanu-PF government has used the military as its political appendage since Independence in 1980, the abuse intensified at the turn of the millennium when President Robert Mugabe came under extreme pressure from the opposition MDC.

During the Inclusive Government era between 2009 and 2013 when Zanu-PF and the two MDC formations shared power, the urgent need for security sector reforms loomed large, but Zanu-PF hardliners strongly resisted calls for reform.

After ensuring that no meaningful security sector reforms were undertaken, Zanu-PF won elections in 2013, entrenching itself in power.

Analysts say the symbiotic relationship between Zanu-PF and the military dates back to the liberation struggle and will continue until the leadership of the country has nothing to do with the war veterans. Interestingly, Chiwenga was part of Zanu's commissariat during the liberation war.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said Chiwenga's utterances did not come as a surprise.

"This was not shocking or surprising at all because as we draw closer to elections the military often gets involved in the political affairs of the country," Masunungure said.

"This has been an unspoken secret where there is conflation between the state and the party (Zanu-PF).

"It happens each time we get nearer to elections so that it sends a message to the opposition and what it should expect."

Masunungure also said the conflation of state and party will remain a permanent feature until the whole generation of war veterans exits the political stage.

It all started with the late national army commander Vitalis Zvinavashe intimating on the eve of the 2002 presidential election that any victory by MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai would not be upheld by the men in uniform.

As the years have gone by, military leaders have stuck to their guns and openly campaigned for Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

During every election since then, the military has been deployed covertly and sometimes openly to fulfil political commissariat duties for Zanu-PF, which in 2013 formally employed former Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena and ex-Central Intelligence Organisation director (internal) Sydney Nyanhungo. While in some instances, military units are deployed in uniform to posture politically and campaign for Zanu-PF, there are also clandestine deployments, mainly of soldiers who have now come to be known as "Boys-On-Leave", granted time off their professional duties to do political work for Zanu-PF.

As Mugabe and Zanu-PF came under increasing political pressure, security service chiefs — who have been beneficiaries of his patronage system — have openly declared their political loyalty to him and Zanu-PF, ensuring the military is manipulated and abused for campaign purposes. But with Zanu-PF now engulfed in internal strife and some of its structures collapsing, state institutions, particularly the military, are now propping it up and that is why security forces are currently its pillar of strength.

Analyst Maxwell Saungweme says the military's involvement in the political affairs of the country is disturbing, especially with a few months to the general elections.

"It sends shivers down the spines of many who remember the bloody 2008 elections," Saungweme said.

"Chiwenga is an ambitious general with political ambitions. However, his ambitions must not be mixed up with his current role as a military commander."

"The military should never have a role in politics and power matrix. They should protect national interests and not political party interests," he said, adding: "Chiwenga should resign for openly declaring allegiance to Zanu-PF and not to Zimbabwe."

Mugabe lost to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai during the first round of presidential elections before an orgy of violence was unleashed, forcing Tsvangirai to pull out of the race.

However, analyst Elton Ziki says the role of the military in politics is justified.

"One of its key mandates is to protect territorial integrity within and outside the country's borders, so it has to be involved and make sure there is peace.

"This is common the world over, where some veterans of the liberation struggle play key roles in politics," he said.

Ziki also said army generals are within their rights to comment on key issues that have the potential to destabilise the peace and tranquillity which they fought for.

- the independent


You May Like These Videos


There are no comments.

Latest stories

'Learn to appreciate good deeds,' Adv. Mahere told

by Simbarashe Sithole | 21 February 2018 | 140 Views

Pastor fails to pay maintenance

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 112 Views

Hooker stabs client to death

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 119 Views

Elizabeth Tsvangirai story: A true mirror of human rights encroachments faced by widows in Zimbabwe

by Patience Sibanda (intern at Zimbabwe Democracy Institute) | 21 February 2018 | 186 Views

'Chamisa now unstoppable'

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 181 Views

Tshinga Dube wades into 'foreign' labour saga

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 129 Views

Mnangagwa's govt fails to pay bonuses

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 74 Views

Zanu-PF MP's son shot

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 92 Views

Chamisa bemoans violence against party leaders

by Stephen Jakes | 21 February 2018 | 135 Views

Mnangagwa commissions NRZ rolling stock

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 77 Views

Ban on kombis in CBD slammed

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 224 Views

Mahamat of supporting a coup government in Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 85 Views

President Mugabe's 94th birthday photos

by Staff Reporter | 21 February 2018 | 879 Views

Mugabe feeling 'unloved' on his 94th birthday

by BBC - Brian Hungwe | 21 February 2018 | 134 Views

What peace and reconciliation without truth

by S.V Mabhena | 21 February 2018 | 65 Views

MDC-T splits as Obert Gutu quits MDC-Chamisa

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 157 Views

US to withdraw MDC-T funding over terror attacks on Khupe?

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 137 Views

Turning blind eye on violence, root cause of MDC split - Coltart

by Simbarashe Mwandipendaa | 21 February 2018 | 76 Views

PICTURES: Bhalagwe memorial service

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 68 Views

The Menzisi Dube Foundation Appeal

by Agencies | 21 February 2018 | 48 Views

Billy Graham dies

by BBC | 21 February 2018 | 94 Views

Happy national youth day comrades

by NPP National Youth | 21 February 2018 | 103 Views

Happy Birthday Baba Bona

by Belinda Chowa | 21 February 2018 | 230 Views

WATCH: The moment Khupe was attacked by Chamisa's supporters

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 131 Views

Zhuwao 'reacts angrily' as AU supports Mnangagwa' - report

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 86 Views

WATCH: Chamisa supporters called Khupe a dissident

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 139 Views

Chamisa apologise but tells Khupe to go to Mars

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 150 Views

The politics of gender and tribe must fall - NPP Youths

by Khulani David Ndlovu | 21 February 2018 | 72 Views

Econet Media's Kwesé and iflix Deepen Partnership

by APO | 21 February 2018 | 89 Views

Khupe attackers were chanting Chamisa slogans

by Simbarashe Sithole | 21 February 2018 | 88 Views

Mujuru in Buhera

by Advocate Gift Nyandoro | 21 February 2018 | 83 Views

Attack on Khupe a Gukurahundist replica

by Mkhululi Zulu | 21 February 2018 | 96 Views

Thank You Zimbabwe - MDC-T

by Luke Tamborinyoka | 21 February 2018 | 177 Views

No lavish 94th birthday celebrations for Mugabe

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 211 Views

Mnangagwa's emissary humiliated at Tsvangirai burial

by Staff reporetr | 21 February 2018 | 132 Views

Mutambara whip up MDC-T crowd with partisan speech

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 129 Views

Chamisa invaded Tsvangirai's most private space

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 159 Views

Kaseke, ministry official clash over Mzembi

by Staff reporter | 21 February 2018 | 89 Views