Chiwenga after Jonathan Moyo

HARARE - Constantino Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), has once again waded into the factional fights rattling the governing party, taking aim at Jonathan Moyo — the Zanu PF politburo member — whom he is accusing of undermining the Command Agriculture scheme, whose implementation is fraught with legal headaches.

On Tuesday, the ZDF commander gave an unsolicited interview to gatekeepers at two State-owned titles, using the opportunity to issue a veiled warning to Moyo that the military has had enough of his unrestrained attacks on Command Agriculture.

He implied that the Higher Education minister was leaking sensitive government and party information to the private media, without providing the evidence.

This followed reports in the private media that government was violating the State Procurement Act in its implementation of the hyped programme.

In our weekend edition, we were the first to reveal that the Command initiative was contravening the Act, which requires that all projects worth US$10 000 or above should go through formal tender to enable government to get the best money can buy.

Another privately-owned weekly, also carried a report the next day saying Treasury had raised a red flag over the programme, amid indications that its implementers were running a parallel government.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa was the first to issue a thinly-veiled attack on the Higher Education minister on Monday. And on Tuesday, Chiwenga issued a lengthy statement in the State-run Herald, reserving his harshest criticism for Moyo, in comments that have attracted widespread condemnation among opposition political parties.

He justified his encroachment into civilian matters saying food security was one of the pillars of national security adding that an attack on the programme was an attack on the economy.

“When you attack the economy you become the enemy of the State,” said Chiwenga.

“This guy (Moyo) who is vomiting that nonsense, didn’t he get support from Command Agriculture,” questioned Chiwenga.

“He has some other forces behind him? Hasn’t he written books that he is going to destroy from within? We read. We are all educated. We read. He has said that.

“Everyone must see. He rebelled before. Not once. He rebelled when we were in the struggle, he ran away. When he ran away he did all his nonsense, his column in the Financial Gazette.

“And in his book, when he was teaching, his commentary on why he went to America — we know. When he left and went independent, was he repentant? And we know now that the tweeting is coming from Baba Jukwa and company, we know that. But I think he has got to where we wanted him to. Let me leave it at that,” warned Chiwenga, ominously.

Moyo has lately become one of the fiercest critics of Command Agriculture.

Using the micro-blogging site, Twitter, Moyo has been unrelenting in his criticism of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa who has been leading the programme, launched last year as part of efforts to improve food security.

Mnangagwa, who is backed by a Zanu PF faction called Team Lacoste, is said to be using the initiative to enhance his chances of succeeding President Robert Mugabe when he eventually leaves office. He has therefore courted the ire of a rival camp known as Generation 40 (G40) to which the Higher Education minister is said to belong.

Both Mnangagwa and Moyo deny being part of factions in Zanu PF.

Moyo has, however, publicly stated that he does not want Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe and has at any given opportunity used Twitter to savage him — including describing the Command Agriculture as “command ugly-culture” led by command thieves.

Yesterday, Moyo dared Chiwenga, setting the stage for more drama in the coming weeks.

He cryptically tweeted in Shona yesterday, “Kuvhunduka chati kwata hunge uine katurikwa! (the guilty are the ones who are afraid).”

Observers said yesterday Chiwenga’s rant should not be dismissed as merely politicking.

Maxwell Saungweme, a political analyst, said Zimbabwe’s military has a history of being kingmakers in Zanu PF power matrix, given the various roles played by fallen generals, that can either directly push Mugabe to rein in Moyo or they can take out Moyo through bringing police in on issues such as the alleged theft of the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund resources.

“Given that Chiwenga made public pronouncements, it is unlikely Moyo will go via mysterious accidents or other extra judicial ways others have suffered,” he said.

“But the mere pronouncements by Chiwenga that Moyo has reached where they wanted him to be can send chills to Moyo’s spine and make him stop what he is accused of doing. Chiwenga’s statements can also trigger a disciplinary process against Moyo in Zanu PF,” he added.

University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Eldred Masunungure said if there is a perception that there are some destabilising forces, the military believes that it is their role to secure the country.

“The general is saying what some ministers are doing compels them to intervene, but also that the security is part of that conflated party state so it becomes not surprising that the military makes such pronouncements, the generation of liberation war heroes cannot disassociate itself from Zanu PF,” said Masunungure.

“They have an option of arresting him (Moyo) but it suggests that they are now about to contain him and that can take several forms and arresting is one, the options are open-ended, it appears as though they have reached a stage where they say enough is enough,” he added.

This is not the first time that Chiwenga has had to stamp his authority in matters that many believe fall outside the military.

Ahead of the March of 2008, he took a position that the army was not going to salute sell-outs and agents of the West, in reference to the MDC, which Mugabe accuses of being used by former imperialists to purse a “regime change agenda”.

In August of 2016, he also admonished demonstrators, who were expressing their anger with Mugabe’s administration.

In the same month, he also wrapped G40 elements for stirring discord in Zanu PF.

Early this year, Chiwenga threatened war veterans who expressed their displeasure with the government’s failure to cater for their welfare.

Yesterday, Moyo found unusual support from opposition political parties, including former vice president Joice Mujuru, whose dismissal from Zanu PF in 2014, was partly orchestrated by the Higher Education minister.

Mujuru said the ZDF commander should not meddle in civilian politics but confine himself to the barracks.

“Securocrats must remain in their barracks, but Chiwenga is a political soldier, he was born from the liberation struggle and his role was that of political commissar that is what he is doing, but what we are looking for right now is a soldier who will not take sides, a soldier who is above party politics and when such things arise the army should tread in between,” said Mujuru, whose late husband, Solomon, was the first black commander to lead the Zimbabwe National Army on transiting from colonial rule to an independent Zimbabwe.

Mujuru died in 2011 in a suspicious inferno at his farmhouse in Beatrice.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by former Finance minister Tendai Biti, said yesterday Chiwenga’s incessant interference in civilian processes was ultra vires the Constitution.

PDP said the function of the ZDF is to protect Zimbabwe, its people, its national security and interests and its territorial integrity and to uphold this Constitution.

“ . . . Chiwenga is a politician who must stop hiding in the army uniform; political practitioners do not belong at KG6 or the Defence House. He must come out in the open and get some space at the Jongwe building,” reads part of a statement issued by PDP.

“He is in violation of Section 208 of the Constitution which states that neither the security services nor any of their members may, in the exercise of their functions, act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights or freedoms of any person.

“Many times, Chiwenga utters political and partisan words against the dictates of the Constitution. He frequents Zanu PF rallies, at one point he was referred to by Mnangagwa as a commissar of Zanu PF. We find this despicable and unacceptable,” the PDP said.

Comments (3)

Old news boring to read. Where were you when others made headlines with the same story, dear editor

Awilo - 28 June 2017

This so called General is a coward , the guy was beaten left , right and center by his former wife now he wants to be a jongwe , fuck mhani. lets put them is a ring hand to hand with jonso, he will be bashed. Please Mr President, dont renew his contract again, haazi chinhu

Tafa Mahoso - 28 June 2017

Can we b surprised by Chiwenga, Chihure(pardon) they r the bolts and rivets that the aged dictator has used to lock down, ravage, rape, pillage, garrote, and sodomise our country. They r not military these guys. they r just critters crawling on the old fella's belly, butt and tits singings to the high heaven for their dinner. They make me sick!

Mhepoyenzara - 28 June 2017

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