THE Joint Operation Command (JOC), a grouping of top military, police and intelligence chiefs, has emerged sharply divided by the just-ended Zanu PF provincial elections which saw a faction reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru trouncing Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s camp.
Owen Gagare/Elias Mambo
Sources in the party told the Zimbabwe Independent service chiefs have become deeply sucked into Zanu PF’s factional battles and are now divided over the issue, especially after polls.
JOC has been key to President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s political survival over the years.
Mujuru is said to enjoy the support of Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Air force of Zimbabwe Commander Perence Shiri, Zimbabwe Prison Services Commander Paradzai Zimondi and Central Intelligence Organisation director general Happyton Bonyongwe, among others. The Zanu PF commissariat department, led by retired Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena and former CIO director-internal Sydney Nyanhongo, are also said to be behind Mujuru.
However, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga and a number of influential commanders such as Major-Generals Douglas Nyikayaramba and Martin Chedondo are linked to the Mnangagwa faction.
This is despite Chiwenga being reportedly interested in taking over from Mugabe as well.
After losing the provincial polls under controversial circumstances, Mnangagwa’s faction is also said to be now firmly behind Mugabe to ensure he completes his term while they close ranks, restrategise and rally their troops.
“There are also some people in Zanu PF who believe it would be better if a third way is found and they want the initiative to be backed by the military, with Chiwenga being the face of it at least for now,” a senior party official said. “This group actually believes it would be in the best interest of Zanu PF if neither Mujuru nor Mnangagwa takes over from Mugabe.”
The issue of military influence in Zanu PF came up for discussion during the extra-ordinary politburo meeting called by Mugabe a fortnight ago when Nicholas Goche complained about Muchena’s role in provincial elections.
Sources in the party said Goche’s anger stemmed from a confrontation he had with Muchena over the conduct of provincial elections in Mashonaland Central.Although both Goche and Muchena are said to be sympathetic to Mujuru, their problem highlighted tensions between the civilian leadership of the party and those with security backgrounds.