Army Generals Rebel against Mugabe
Zimbabwe’s military generals have turned en masse against dictator Robert Mugabe, Now Daily can reveal.
To counter the defections, Mugabe has started a programme of rapid promotion of junior troops who are selected for their political allegiance rather than combat experience, leadership qualities and competence. The move saw the recent elevation of 37 officers without explanation and without going through the normal rigorous examination process.
The generals have now thrown their weight behind vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Team Lacoste faction of the ruling Zanu PF as well as ex-vice president and former defence minister Joyce Mujuru, who recently launched her Zimbabwe People First party.
The rebellion is seen by analysts as setting the stage for an Egyptian-style revolt where the military refused to turn their weapons against civilian protesters at the height of former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s reign of terror.
Among the top generals to openly dump Mugabe is Engelbert Rugeje, the former army chief of staff and Brigadier General Elliot Kasu. Rugeje is publicly recruiting for Mujuru in his Masvingo home province while Kasu sat at the top table during a recent ZPF launch rally in Manicaland.
The rebellion within the top army ranks was triggered by the despot’s wife Grace Mugabe’s televised attacks of veterans of the 1980s Chimurenga war for independence and her false claims that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga wanted to topple Mugabe and assassinate his family. Grace Mugabe later fabricated a case against one of the leaders of Mujuru’s party, who has been jailed nine years for allegedly attempting to bomb her Mazowe dairy and to kill her son Bellarmine Chatunga. The charges and trial process have been dismissed by opposition officials and experts as ‘laughable’.
Chiwenga and a large number of commanders are firmly behind Mnangagwa. So is Air Force of Zimbabwe head, Air Marshall Perence Shiri who, ironically, is related to Mugabe. Central Intelligence Organization boss Brigadier General Happyton Bonyongwe is believed to back Mujuru, whose late husband General Solomon Mujuru set him up, but the rank and file of the spy agency has proved loyalty to Mnangagwa, who helped shape the organization as state security minister in the 1980s.
The generals have for decades given covert support to civilian politicians but felt betrayed when opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai sold out to Mugabe after winning the first round of voting in the 2008 elections, forming a coalition government instead of mounting public protests which the military was ready to back. Many military officials who were found to have backed Tsvangirai, including General Mujuru were murdered on Mugabe’s orders. Tsvangirai has now been dumped by Mugabe and his party has splintered over his weak leadership style, political violence, corruption and sex scandals, making his chances of a political comeback extremely remote, according to analysts. Tsvangirai has also lost the backing of major Western powers for failing to tackle Mugabe. The same powers are now bankrolling Mujuru and Mnangagwa.
The military commands great influence across all sectors in Zimbabwe after Zanu PF adopted a policy of appointing soldiers to head state enterprises. While serving soldiers support Mugabe’s opponents clandestinely, retired and sacked officers have come out in open support of Mnangagwa, Mujuru and other opposition forces. They are now talking in terms of a military uprising if Mugabe rigs the next election scheduled for 2018.
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