Militarisation of foreign service continues

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THE appointment of three army generals as ambassadors to Japan, Russia and Mozambique by President Robert Mugabe last week underlines government’s continued militarisation of key state institutions despite widespread concerns from various stakeholders.

Last week Mugabe, through his Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Misheck Sibanda made the appointments in terms of Section 110(2)(i) and 204 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 2013.

Air Vice-Marshal Titus Mehliswa Jonathan Abu-Basutu becomes Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Japan, replacing Stuart Comberbach.

Abu-Basutu was the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ Chief of Staff service personnel and logistics. In the controversial 2008 and 2013 elections, he was deployed in Matabeleland South province to drum up support for Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Major-General Nicholas Mahuhuba Dube, who was the Chief of Staff Joint Operations and Plans in the Ministry of Defence, moves to Mozambique as thee new ambassador, taking over from Brigadier Agrippa Mutambara.

Brigadier-General Mike Nicholas Sango takes over as the ambassador to the Federation of Russia from Lieutenant-Colonel Boniface Guwa Chidyausiku.

The systematic militarisation of state institutions started in the 1990s, as Mugabe rewarded top army officers who helped Zanu PF entrench its rule through brutal campaigns in the face of strong opposition from a then vibrant MDC party, at a time Mugabe’s popularity was on the wane owing to socio-economic challenges.

Former senior military personnel have been deployed to parastatals and key state institutions in a move largely seen as an attempt by Mugabe and Zanu PF to embed patronage and loyalty.

In the build-up to the 2013 general elections, the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that security chiefs — under the banner of the Joint Operations Command (Joc) which brings together army, police and intelligence chiefs — dispatched senior officers to the country’s 10 provinces to spearhead Zanu PF’s election campaigns.

Under the plan Major-General Engelbrecht Rugeje, Brigadier-General David Sigauke, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, Retired Major-General Victor Rungani, Vice Air-Marshal Titus Abu-Basutu and Brigadier-General Sibusiso Moyo were all deployed to various provinces.

The security sector is credited with masterminding the June 2008 bloody presidential run-off in which MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out citing Zanu PF’s terror campaign that resulted in about 200 MDC supporters being killed. Tsvangirai had won the first round of the presidential poll, but fell just short of the required majority.

Among ex-military commanders deployed at Zimbabwe’s diplomatic missions are ambassadors retired (Rtd) Major-General Jevan Maseko (Cuba), former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-general Elisha Muzonzini (Kenya) and Rtd Major-General Edzai Chimonyo (Tanzania). The CIO is headed by Rtd Brigadier-General Happyton Bonyongwe, while the Zimbabwe Prison Services is under Rtd Major-General Paradzai Zimondi.

The secretariat of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), which administers elections in the country, has been stuffed with military officials since 2000 that included army chief of staff (quartermaster) Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba and Justice George Chiweshe. — Staff Writer.

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