Fac­tion fight­ing in Harare

Army, po­lice at odds

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - PETA THORNYCROFT

FIGHT­ING in cen­tral Harare on Wed­nes­day be­tween sol­diers and po­lice was part of the on­go­ing fac­tion dis­putes within the rul­ing Zanu-PF party over who will suc­ceed Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe.

Civil­ians in the cen­tre of Harare – some of them laugh­ing – ran as mem­bers of the Na­tional Army, in full uni­form, be­gan chas­ing and clob­ber­ing mem­bers of the Zim­babwe Re­pub­lic Po­lice.

Sev­eral po­lice­men were beaten while others ran for safety into the Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion.

This ten­sion erupted be­cause Gen­eral Con­stan­tine Chi­wenga, 60, com­man­der of the Zim­babwe De­fence Forces since 2004, does not know whether his lat­est con­tract, which ex­pired last week, will be re­newed. He openly sup­ports vi­cepres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa, 74, to suc­ceed Mu­gabe. Chi­wenga, who was re­cently awarded his PhD from the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal, has al­ways been clear that he is a politi­cian be­fore a pub­lic ser­vant.

“Elec­tions are coming and the army will not sup­port and sa­lute sell-outs and agents of the West be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions other than Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe who has sac­ri­ficed a lot for the coun­try,” said Chi­wenga in an interview ahead of the polls in 2008.

For the first time Mu­gabe has hinted that Chi­wenga and sev­eral other gen­er­als might be forced to re­tire in the on­go­ing scram­ble for power within Zanu-PF. “We re­spect our de­fence forces, es­pe­cially those who are at the top. Of course they will re­tire but we are go­ing to find them room in gov­ern­ment so that they do not lan­guish,” Mu­gabe said at a rally last week.

An­a­lyst Vi­o­let Gonda said: “It is com­mon knowl­edge that the mil­i­tary sup­ports Mnan­gagwa and the po­lice sup­port the G40 group. We should be con­cerned that this flare-up does not es­ca­late.”

Gonda said the G40 group, try­ing hard to pro­mote de­fence min­is­ter Sid­ney Sek­era­mayi, 73, as its leader to suc­ceed Mu­gabe, is man­aged by Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo has had a che­quered ca­reer within Zanu-PF. He is at present in an al­liance with Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Saviour Ka­sukuwere and First Lady Grace Mu­gabe. But Moyo is, Gonda said, “ma­nip­u­lat­ing” the sit­u­a­tion. He is the one in con­trol of G40. He used to con­trol the state-owned me­dia such as the main daily news­pa­pers, The Her­ald and The Chron­i­cle.

Moyo, Sek­era­mayi and other loy­al­ists were given farms taken from whites since 2000. Mnan­gagwa, how­ever, is un­der­stood to have since paid some com­pen­sa­tion to the farmer he evicted.

Gonda and other an­a­lysts say that if Chi­wenga and others are forced to “re­tire” – per­haps to take up posts in the small and fi­nan­cially stressed diplo­matic ser­vice – Mu­gabe might move even fur­ther to en­sure the party’s con­sti­tu­tion is changed to al­low Grace to be a third vice-pres­i­dent.

“Many would won­der what will hap­pen if Mu­gabe gets rid of Mnan­gagwa to make way for G40’s pre­ferred can­di­date Sek­era­mayi,” Gonda said.

Mnan­gagwa is ac­cused by many of hav­ing played a key role as se­cu­rity min­is­ter in the shock­ing mas­sacres of op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers in the two Mata­bele­land prov­inces from 1983 to 1987, which saw thou­sands killed by a North Kore­antrained brigade which op­er­ated out­side the na­tional army.

Jonathan Moyo has had a che­quered ca­reer within Zanu-PF

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