THE just-ended Zanu PF primary elections have seen more than a dozen candidates with military backgrounds winning the right to represent the party in general elections in which President Robert Mugabe is seeking an outright victory as part of his political survival strategy.
Zanu PF has been militarising its structures since the party lost the 2008 elections and some reports say it has replaced its defunct district coordinating committees with the military, which is co-ordinating the grassroots structures.
Serving and retired military personnel, police and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) threw their hats into the ring and won in the chaotic primary elections last week.
Former Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairman Retired Colonel Daniel Shumba will represent the party in Masvingo Central, Retired Major-General Mathias Tongofa (Chivi North), Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube (Makokoba), Retired Major Lungisani Nleya (Bulilima West) while senior police officer Ronald Muderedza will contest in Buhera Central.
Retired Colonel Hubert Nyanhongo is vying for Nyanga North, Assistant Commissioner Oliver Mandipaka, who is still serving, will represent Zanu PF in Buhera West, Retired Colonel Claudius Makova (Bikita West), war veteran Joseph Chinotimba (Buhera South) and former Security attaché at the Zimbabwe Embassy in London Winnie Mlambo is seeking to represent the party in Chipinge East.
Since Independence in 1980, the security sector, particularly the military, has played a significant role in the political and electoral affairs of the country.
Key positions in Zanu PF’s commissariat department are already occupied by security personnel. In 2010, Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena retired from the Air Force of Zimbabwe and joined the party where he is working with former CIO director-internal Sydney Nyanhongo.
The militarisation of Zanu PF, bringing it more under the control and direction of security actors, has shaken senior leaders who believe the increasing number of people with security backgrounds occupying high positions could destabilise the party and alienate it from voters.
Intelligence and Zanu PF insiders say the movement of security personnel into the party is a well-calculated plan to militarise Zanu PF structures and prepare for the takeover of the party by a Joint Operations Command cabal plotting to succeed Mugabe.