PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday retired Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga “pending redeployment”, amid speculative reports the army boss was now destined for the Vice-Presidency after leading the military’s Operation Restore Legacy, which culminated in former President Robert Mugabe’s ouster last month.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Mnangagwa also sent Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri packing, a move that may receive support, as the cops boss had often been accused of failing to instil discipline within the force.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda yesterday said Chiwenga would be replaced by former Zimbabwe National Army Commander Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, who immediately assumed the rank of full General and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
Air Force of Zimbabwe boss, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, now Lands minister, was retired at the higher rank of Air Chief Marshal, Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, now Foreign Affairs minister, was also retired after assuming the rank of Lieutenant-General while Major-General Engelbert Rugeje, now Zanu PF political commissar, assumed the rank of Lieutenant-General on retirement.
The three, however, remain part of the army’s national reserve force, joining Zanu PF’s “boys on leave club” as they could be recalled to join the military when the political leadership decides so.
Major-General Edzai Absolom Chakanyuka Chimonyo takes over from Sibanda, as he was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
Before his appointment, Chimonyo served as ambassador to Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda on secondment to the Foreign Affairs ministry.
Air Vice Marshal Elson Moyo was promoted to Air Marshal and takes over from Shiri, with David Sigauke, John Chris Mupande, Paul Chima and Hlanganani Dube being moved to the rank of Major-Generals, while Jasper Garikayi Marangwanda was promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal.
All the new appointees are believed to be war veterans.
MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu described the move as appeasement to the army.
“This clearly shows and proves that the ruling party has now been fully militarised,” he said.
“It doesn’t need rocket science to know that Chiwenga is now going to be appointed as a Vice-President of both Zanu PF and the State.
“It is obviously payback time for the military for having masterminded the fall of Robert Mugabe.
“As the MDC-T, our main focus is to ensure that next year’s elections are held in a free and fair environment that will produce a credible and legitimate result.
“That can be the only genuine exit point from the prevailing political turbulence in the country as well as the gateway to sustainable socio-economic development.”
Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said the move should be closely watched as the country goes for elections.
“These actions point to a rapid militarisation of the government and Zanu PF that places into serious doubt the prospects of democratic, free and fair elections in 2018,” he said.
“It also raises questions about the real motives for the military intervention, which now appears to have been more about securing narrow military interests and objectives and not the broader national interests.”