Latest News Editor's Choice


News / Local

Mnangagwa cracks whip on top soldiers

by Staff reporter
19 Dec 2023 at 13:55hrs | Views
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly cracked the whip firing seven high-ranking members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) after they failed to rein in their subordinates who walked out on him during the handover of military equipment by the Chinese government last week.

Several low-ranking army officers who were seated in the open abandoned the event and sought shelter on buses following a heavy downpour, while Mnangagwa, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF, was speaking during the handover ceremony at Inkomo Mechanised Brigade in Zvimba, a few kilometres outside Harare.

Highly-placed sources within the ZDF told NewsDay that the axe fell on regimental sergeant majors from the Parachute Regiment, Special Air Services and Mechanised Brigade.

The officer commanding Inkomo Barracks Mechanised Brigade was demoted, while several majors were transferred and pending court-martial for failing to control their troops.

"During President Mnangagwa's speech, a heavy downpour caused troops seated in the open to scramble for cover on a bus. This was interpreted as disrespect towards the Commander-in-Chief and frankly, quite embarrassing," an insider disclosed.

"Last week, a flash message notified regimental sergeant majors of their dismissal due to their inability to command their troops. Confusion has arisen as some dismissed individuals have reported for duty."

Contacted for comment yesterday, ZDF spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore said he would respond via email.

"I will email you our response. I saw your message and we are processing it," he said.

Makotore had not responded to the questions at the time of going to print.

The donation of equipment worth 200 million yuan (US$28 million) is meant to bolster Zimbabwe's security operations and modernise its armed forces.

According to video recordings released by the presidential communications department, the donation comprised eight Norinco WMA301 6×6 tanks, WZ-551 infantry fighting vehicles, six infantry trucks, ambulances, motorised water purifiers, and minibuses.

The dismissals have reportedly triggered discontent and low morale within the military.

"The abruptness and severity of these dismissals have unsettled many within the ZDF. The lack of clarity surrounding the specific charges has fuelled frustration and confusion," said a soldier.

Several analysts cautioned against solely attributing the dismissals to troop control issues.

South Africa-based political analyst Romeo Chasara said the political context cannot be ignored in this case.

"Mnangagwa has previously utilised the military to consolidate his power. These firings could be interpreted as a message to ensure continued loyalty," remarked Chasara.

Mnangagwa's questionable support among lower army ranks was revealed by reports of soldiers voting against him in the August harmonised elections.

In an attempt to appease the security sector, Mnangagwa allocated a substantial portion of the 2024 national budget to the Defence and Home Affairs ministries.

Presenting the budget last month Finance minister Mthuli Ncube assigned ZWL$10,8 trillion to the security sector, dwarfing other sectors such as Health and Social Services, from a total budget of ZWL$58,2 trillion (US$10 billion).
The Defence ministry received the highest allocation, amounting to ZWL$3 637 636 000 000.

The budget statement justifies this by stating, "The security forces play a crucial role in safeguarding the nation's territorial integrity, national interests, and sovereignty over land and airspace, against both internal and external threats. Peace is fundamental to economic"

Source - newsday