A local non-governmental organisation, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, has reported the emergence of a new class of bourgeoisie comprising the country’s top military brass, politicians and businessman loyal to President Robert Mugabe.
In a 31-page report titled: The Military Factor in Zimbabwe’s Political and Electoral Affairs released in Johannesburg, South Africa recently, the NGO said through political patronage, the military “has increasingly played central and critical role in directing production and controlling ownership of the means of production”.
According to the report, 52 key institutions are run by military personnel.
However, Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo on Tuesday dismissed the report as biased and inaccurate.
“What war chest are we building? That coalition (Crisis Coalition) is the one which should comment further and on military appointments, that is beyond my portfolio,” said Gumbo.
But the NGO said the report was based on research conducted between September 2010 and March this year. The research included interviews with various policymakers, serving and retired military officers, and officials in the inclusive government, security sector experts, civic society and ordinary Zimbabweans.
Part of the report reads: “Through an elaborate patronage system established to reward partisan senior military officials and keep them loyal to Zanu PF and to President Mugabe, the military has increasingly played a central and critical role in directing production and controlling ownership of the means of production.”
Over the years, senior army officers, in line with an elaborate patronage system, have reportedly been appointed to lead strategic State institutions that include the Zimbabwe Prisons Services (ZPS), the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), and the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, the report said.
“The increased militarisation of the State has led to the military taking control of an expanding range of decisions and actions from political strategy to the formulation and implementation of agrarian and economic policy.”
The report said Mugabe had gone to great lengths to ensure the military’s continued loyalty “including distribution of land, housing and prominent political positions to top-ranking military officials and distribution and production of food”.
It added that companies granted licences to mine diamonds in Marange under unclear circumstances were controlled by senior military officers.
“There are genuine fears that diamond revenue from Marange which is not properly accounted for is being used by the military and those aligned to Zanu PF to build a war chest to fund electoral violence should Zimbabwe go to elections in 2011 as Zanu PF so much wants,” says the report.
Although the political leadership of the military is “overtly partisan towards Zanu PF” many soldiers in the rank and file are professional and non-partisan and aspiring to faithfully serve their country, the report added.
The report recommended that soldiers deployed across the country be recalled to the barracks and direct all military leaders to jointly issue a public statement denouncing meddling in political and civilian affairs.