THE retirement of senior army officers seconded in civilian offices has exposed government’s violation of the country’s supreme law, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.
By Bernard Mpofu
President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week promoted six brigadiers-general to the rank of major-general upon retirement from active service.
The six generals that were promoted with effect from December 2017 are Godfrey Chanakira, Thando Madzvamuse, Evaristo Dzihwema, Chancellor Diye, Gerald Gwinji and Mike Nicholas Sango.
It has since emerged that three of the six generals — Dzihwema, Gwinji and Sango — were assigned civilian roles while still serving in the army in clear violation of the constitution. Dzihwema served as principal director in the disbanded Youth and Indigenisation ministry while Gwinji is health secretary. Sango was appointed Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Russia in 2015.
According to Section 208:4 of the constitution, “serving members of the security services must not be employed or engaged in civilian institutions except in periods of public emergency.”
The appointment of the serving military people to civilian posts also raises questions about the government’s commitment to taming the wage bill amid concern that the officers were receiving double salaries and perks.
In March 2015, former president Robert Mugabe appointed three high-ranking Zimbabwe Defence Forces officers as ambassadors to Japan, Russia and Mozambique. Air Vice-Marshal Titus Abu-Basutu was posted to Japan, Major-General Nicholas Dube, who was chief-of-staff joint operations and plans in the Ministry of Defence, was sent to Mozambique, while Sango became Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Russia, taking over from Lieutenant-Colonel Boniface Chidyausiku.
This new government is also violating the constitution with the continued staffing at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) with mostly serving military personnel.
In October 2016, the Independent reported that 160 members of the security services, mainly seconded from the army, police and prison service, had been seconded to the NPA.
The NPA is a constitutional body which institutes criminal proceedings on behalf of the state.
It came into being in July 2014 after Mugabe signed the NPA Act into law. The militarisation of the NPA, which began under the tenure of sacked PG Johannes Tomana, has strained relations between the security personnel and civilians who are against the command-style administration now in place at the body.
Senior military officers deployed at the NPA include Colonel Solomon Siziba, who is the director of administration, Major Levy Msipa (administration and finance executive), Captain Cleopas Mapfumo (administration manager), Major Garikai Manyeruke (human resources executive) and Captain Callisto Chafadza (human resources manager).
The information technology department is run by an M Chirau from the Air Force of Zimbabwe.
The officers add to 127 non-civilian prosecutors from the police, prisons and army, who are on the NPA’s roll call.
Commenting on the secondments, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs permanent secretary Virginia Mabhiza said yesterday although they appreciated the need to phase out military personnel from the NPA, it could not be done overnight.
“Can you imagine phasing out three-quarters of the NPA overnight? It would cripple the institution,” Mabhiza said.
Opposition leader and lawyer Tendai Biti said the appointment of serving army officers in civilian institutions is worrisome.
“All this confirms that nobody cares about the constitution. What is of concern is the brazenness of this junta which is in power. They are not ashamed of the illegality,” Biti said.