21 July 2024 | 12:08 AM

Payback for Zim’s security chiefs

Key Takeaways

The electoral commission that oversaw Zimbabwe’s elections and certified President Robert Mugabe’s overwhelming victory is dominated by serving and former officers of the military, police and intelligence service – well-known allies of Zanu-PF.

Mugabe took 61% of the vote in the presidential election against Movement of Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s 33%, spelling the end of the government of national unity introduced after the 2008 poll.

The Zimbabwe Democratic Institute has accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s (ZEC’s) secretariat of being “problematic, partisan and militarised” and, therefore, un-able to deliver free and fair elections.

The secretariat has been dominated by former and serving military officials since the 2002 election, when the army chief of staff, Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba, headed it.

Nyikayaramba was reported to have retired from the army to become chief elections officer of what was then called the Electoral Supervisory Commission for the 2002 and 2005 polls. However, he returned as commander of 3 Brigade in Mutare after his mission at the elections body had been accomplished. Both elections were won controversially by Zanu-PF.

In 2005, George Chiweshe, a retired army brigadier general, was appointed as ZEC chairperson, which he was for the 2008 poll. He left in 2010 to become a judge.

The current election officer is Lovemore Sekeramayi, a former member of the president’s office. The directors under him, head of operations Utoile Silaigwana and the head of administration and finance, Notayo Mutemasango, are former soldiers.

The MDC-T also alleges that a number of provincial officers of the ZEC are former or serving security force members.

Zimbabwean political analyst Blessing Vava said this week that, as Mugabe re-establishes one-party hegemony following his election victory, Zanu-PF’s control of Zimbabwe’s state institutions by the military, police and intelligence service is likely to intensify.

Vava said: “The presence of ex-security officials in government institutions is likely to increase, as Zanu-PF will be trying by all means to consolidate its grip on the state. The party wants total control of these institutions, as the former inclusive government diluted its control.”

In addition, Mugabe has increasingly used top state sector jobs to reward his security force allies and provide retirement benefits for them.

The military has been accused of being central in securing Mugabe’s election win and senior officers will now be expecting him to hand out executive positions in key state institutions.

It is widely believed that security chiefs masterminded the bloody June 2008 presidential run-off from which Tsvangirai withdrew, leaving the field to Mugabe.

In addition to the ZEC, strategic state institutions used in this way include the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the Grain Marketing Board, the National Railways of Zimbabwe, public-private partnerships operating in the diamond mining industry, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and Zimpapers.

Details of who holds what position are often difficult to ascertain, but an amaBhungane investigation established the following:

Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments

Mbada and Anjin are joint ventures between the Zimbabwe government and private business, formed to exploit Zimbabwe’s newly discovered diamond riches, particularly the Marange fields.

Both are firmly in the grip of former military officers, who have allegedly used diamond revenues to enrich themselves and entrench the power of the existing political elite.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy, in a recent report, noted that Marange “is still under the protection of the army” and that the army-linked companies do not pay tax.

Mbada is run by retired air vice-marshal Robert Mhlanga.

Anjin’s company secretary is Charles Tarumbwa, a serving brigadier general, and members of the company’s executive board are reported to be the permanent secretary in the defence ministry, Martin Rushwaya; the chief of staff to the commissioner general of police, senior assistant commissioner Nonkosi Ncube; and Munyaradzi Machacha, a Zanu-PF commissariat publications director.

Anjin’s nonexecutive board members include a retired colonel, Romeo Daniel Mutsvunguma.

Grain Marketing Board

Since the start of Zimbabwe’s chaotic land reform programme in the early 2000s, the board has been managed by former senior security force officers. Its general manager is Albert Mandizha, a former senior assistant police commissioner. In 2007, he took over from Samuel Muvuti, a retired army colonel who had been acting chief executive and operations director since 2003.

Muvuti’s employment was terminated after he was charged with 508 counts of corruption. He was later cleared on all charges and given a severance package.

National Railways of Zimbabwe

The management executive of the barely functioning NRZ includes retired air commodore Mike Karakadzai, and retired army brigadier general Levi Mayihlome is the parastatal’s director of finance and administration. Nyikayaramba became NRZ chairperson in 2006 and is believed to still hold the position.

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and media boards

Opposition parties accuse the ZBC of being riddled with Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents. The ZBC general manager finance is retired brigadier general Elliot Kasu.

The board of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, which regulates the state broadcaster, includes several retired officers, including three former brigadier generals, Felix Muchemwa, Benjamin Mabenge and Gilbert Mashingaidze.

Another retired brigadier general, Elasto Madzingira, and a retired colonel, Reuben Mqwayi, are board members of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, whose role is to allocate licences to potential broadcasters.

National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board

The chairperson, appointed last year, is retired army major general Mike Nyambuya.

State energy sector

The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has faced major problems since 2000, when the government did away with its monopoly of the procurement of petroleum products. In the early 2000s, it was headed by retired army colonel Christian Katsande. He is now the deputy chief secretary to the office of the president and Cabinet.

In the early 2000s, Mugabe appointed retired lieutenant general Mike Nyambuya as energy minister. Retired lieutenant colonel, Hubert Nyanhongo has also been a deputy minister and former CIO official Justin Mupamhanga was the permanent secretary in the energy ministry until last year.

According to a report by the nongovernmental organisation Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Patronage and Military Entrenchment in the National Economy, former security force officers in senior state sector jobs also include retired army colonel Joseph Mhakayakora (principal secretary of public works); Major Anywhere Mutambudzi (director in the public works ministry); retired army colonel Claudius Makova (board member of New Ziana, the state-controlled press agency); retired brigadier general Collin Moyo (board member of Kingstons, the state-owned school textbook company); retired brigadier general Livingstone Chineka (board member of Transmedia, which provides broadcasting signal distribution services): and retired brigadier general Epmarcus Kanhanga (board member of Zimpapers, the state-owned newspaper house).

The presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, could not be reached for comment.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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