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General Chiwenga staying put as ZDF Commander after Mugabe

by Itai Gwatidzo Mushekwe/ Nancy Mabaya/ Mary-Kate Kahari
04 Aug 2014 at 05:52hrs | Views
COLOGNE/ VANCOUVER/ HARARE - Zimbabwe's most powerful military general and man, General Constantine Chiwenga, the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) is reportedly likely to stay in post until at least 2016, The Telescope News reported.

According to senior officials working in the intergrated ministry of defence, Chiwenga is allegedly opting to stay put as Commander in a post-Mugabe era to allow for a "smooth power transition", for any incoming administration "preferrably Zanu PF".

Chiwenga, is seen by many, as a silent power broker who has managed to convince Mugabe to stay in office, to avoid a threatened military putsch in 2008. The General's intention to remain at the top levers of military power, has also been interpreted as a ploy to manage Mugabe out of power without firing a single bullet, while setting up nets of amnesty and safety from prosecution from the International community for various atrocities, when a new leader outside Zanu PF comes into national office.

The hardline General, has been one invisible player, who through the Joint Operations Command (JOC), has pushed for justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to prepare taking over from ailing Mugabe, the officials said.
JOC has long been suspected, of running a parallel government, which is on standby to unleash Mnangagwa as President, at a moment's notice it is thought.

Chiwenga is the only high ranking Commander, to openly endorse Mnangagwa ahead of Vice President, Joice Mujuru, making it clear two years ago at Mnangagwa's birthday bash in kwekwe, that: "Mnangagwa is the only surviving member of the first politburo meeting because in the first days, the president (Mugabe) did not attend the politburo. All the others who attended the first meetings are now dead. I'm sure he is alive for a reason which we all know."

"We have now officially entered a post-Mugabe era," said the defence ministry officers. "ZDF Commander Chiwenga, is believed to have confided to Mugabe and other security services chiefs in April, his intention of not relinquishing his post. He (Chiwenga) will be around until 2016. It is the military elites plan, for Chiwenga to step down only after securing guarantees of protection from the Hague on their behalf before the opposition, is voted into power."

The Telescope News, understands that Chiwenga is not opposed to a cabinet post, where he can easily become defence minister, should Mnangagwa ascend to State House. However intelligence sources said, the long serving soldier, is much more interested in occupying his current post, as it is more powerful and influential than being defence minister.

Defence minister, Sydney Sekeramayi, did not answer his mobile phone, which was going on voicemail throughout the weekend.

Other army sources say, the real motive of Chiwenga's Iron grip in office, is to thwart regime change machinations, which the country's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and military intelligence operatives believe is very much alive, and being secretly waged against Mugabe and his Zanu PF inner circle, by Washington and Brussels.

Only last week Chiwenga, described the so called regime change agenda by the West, as an act of terrorism, while making a presentation on "The Evolving Terrorism Threat: Defence and Security Force Mobilisation at the Continental and Sub Regional Level" at the Zimbabwe Defence College in the capital. "As defence and security institution, we will continue with our constitutional role of ensuring that we meet this challenge head-on. Global conflicts have taken a new dimension as terrorism and banditry seems to have taken a foothold in the conduct of modern warfare."

Chiwenga said the creation of political uncertainty and the inducement of violence and unconstitutional change of governments by some Western countries were acts of terrorism facing Africa.

"The illegal regime change, which people talk about here (in Zimbabwe) is part of terrorism. This has visited Africa as we discuss. Imagine what the situation would have been like if we had not mobilised our defence and security forces to thwart the regime change project?"

Below: Courtesy of Africa Confidential

Date of Birth: 25/08/1956

Place of Birth: Wedza

Career: Joined the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), 1973; Member of ZANLA general staff, 1974; Member of ZANLA high command and Deputy Commissar, 1978;  Commander 1 Brigade, 1981; Commander 5 Brigade, 1984; Brigadier-General, 1987; Lieutenant-General and Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, 1994; Full-General and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, 2005 to date.

Commentary: Constantine Chiwenga kept a largely low profile, being overshadowed by his more vociferous  former wife Jocelyn, who had tiffs with white farmers and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai.  It was only when President Robert Mugabe's political career seemed under threat and Tsvangirai was showing signs that he could win the 2008 elections that he hit the headlines when he said he would not salute Tsvangirai echoing ideas of his predecessor Vitalis Zvinavashe just before the 2002 presidential elections.

His sentiments were taken seriously as he is Commander of the Defence Forces and is in charge of the Joint Operations Command, though nominally this is under Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga originally supported Solomon Mujuru who comes from the same province and was commander of the army but seemed to then throw in his lot with Mnangagwa who was once again Mugabe's favourite. Observers feel that Chiwenga has been given too much credit when the man behind the scene was really Mnangagwa.