The unusual statement by the army this week that the government should deal more decisively with corruption, by aggressively pursuing public officials implicated in graft, has fuelled fears that Zanu PF’s succession wars have become even more intractable — and that service chiefs are now heavily at the heart of the ugly ructions.
Analysts who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said the controversial remarks by Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba were a clear sign that the military was now a major player in Zanu PF’s seemingly unstoppable factional and succession brawls that are having a dire impact on both the party and the country.
This comes as senior military bigwigs, including Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, Constantino Chiwenga, are said to be supportive of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mooted presidential aspirations — a claim the top securocrats deny.
“The public statements by senior military officials that the levels of corruption are now a security threat are not the first time that they have inappropriately interfered in civilian affairs.
“For several years, the military has interfered in Zimbabwe’s political and electoral affairs including the 2008 presidential run-off election where the army played a major role in supporting political violence. The fact is the military has no business commenting on civilian issues,” human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga said.
“It is unconstitutional for the military to involve itself in factional politics. But also shows clearly that the military factor is on the side of Mnangagwa and against the G40 in the party’s succession politics, and the military factor may be the decisive one in the end.
“Using anti-corruption as a disguise to fight factionalism in Zanu PF will ultimately undermine the real fight against corruption which is a major challenge for Zimbabwe today.
“State institutions, including the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) and the military should be non-partisan and should deliver their constitutional duties without fear or favour.
“They should not act or speak on behalf of factions, but only on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mavhinga added.
On its part, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC said the military’s “alleged concern” about rampant corruption in the country “should be taken with a very big chunk of salt”.
“Firstly, I must say the MDC has no business getting itself involved in the politics of Zanu PF’s terrible factionalism. That said, it is clear that the G40 faction is being battered left, right and centre, and are like a dead man walking.
“However, the military’s concern about corruption is not sincere. You will remember that top dogs within the military have been linked to massive looting of diamonds in the Chiadzwa and Marange diamond fields and we never heard the military publicly dissociating itself from these serious allegations,” spokesperson Obert Gutu told the Daily News.
Former civic leader McDonald Lewanika also said while the military may have expressed sentiments that resonated with ordinary Zimbabweans, they had no business “dabbling in civil affairs”.
“Corruption has now become the new proxy war, which ironically (Higher Education minister) Jonathan Moyo himself, who is at the centre of some of the current scandals, tried to use to deal with opponents to his faction in Zanu PF two years ago.
“While the military can venture opinions on key national issues, we need to be wary of celebrating their interventions when it mimics our calls as the military has no place in civilian affairs,” he said.
The concerns come as Moyo and his politburo colleague, Saviour Kasukuwere, have been fingered in corruption storms by Zacc and Parliament respectively, with Zanu PF insiders saying both men are G40 kingpins, a party faction which is rabidly opposed to Mnangagwa succeeding President Robert Mugabe.
Giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Security on Monday, Nyikayaramba said corruption had become a security threat in the country and thus needed to be dealt with decisively.
And on Tuesday, another committee recommended the arrest of Kasukuwere over alleged criminal abuse of office during his tenure at the Indigenisation ministry, where he stands accused of misrepresenting facts on $10 million meant for communities in the rich diamond mining area of Marange.
“With the findings… revealing clear deception bordering on criminal abuse of office, the committee calls upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police… and all relevant authorities to institute formal proceedings… to investigate the conduct of… Kasukuwere, officials from the ministry of Youth… National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board as well as the diamond mining companies in relation to the MZCSOT (Marange Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust ),” said Justice Mayor Wadyajena of the Youth and Indigenisation committee.
“The committee further recommends… Mugabe to establish a commission of inquiry… to investigate the intricate web of deceit, corruption and fraud related to the establishment… of the MZCSOT,” he said.
“Further, that particular attention must be paid to a likely covert strategy meant to discredit and malign the office of the president,” Wadyajena said.