via Dragging the Military into Zanu PF Succession Politics | newzimbabweconstitution 11 November 2014 by Alex T. Magaisa
A few months ago, head of the defence forces, General Constantine Chiwenga appeared in the media distancing the military from the factional fights in Zanu PF, saying the politicians should not drag them into their smear campaigns for power.
Around the same time, Mugabe had played a remarkable hand in respect of the military, whose purpose and effect escaped many. The little mountain kingdom of Lesotho was facing a serious political problem with reports of an attempted coup against the government. To help in assessing and resolving the matter, Mugabe despatched his Defence Minister and his military General.
In doing so, Mugabe was killing many birds with one stone and one of them, a very important one, was giving responsibility to his General and therefore, the military to solve a problem that had been caused by the military of Lesotho. That served another separate but related purpose, as a timely reminder of what was acceptable and unacceptable conduct of the military.
It is unsurprising therefore, that the General made those comments over the role of the military in the factional fights in Zanu PF and it is fair to guess, with the benefit of hindsight, that he was aware from intelligence, of what was to come and the smear campaign that would take place.
In our blog yesterday, we referred to the underlying messages in a story about the Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri published in The Herald newspaper. We thought that story carried heavy signs of potential troubles ahead and that the Commissioner General could be dragged into the factional wars. This is not the first time, of course, that the police have been dragged into this matter. In the recent past, the police authorities have had been forced to deny publicly that they are inclined towards the Mujuru faction. A few weeks ago, we referred to the statement made by Grace Mugabe at one of her rallies during which she made reference to Chiwenga and we thought that was a reckless statement.
Today, though, The Herald carries another story which, while targeted at smearing Mujuru, also points towards the military and might be seen as being suggestive. “Mujuru Fingered in Chicken Scam”, says the headline of the story. The nub of the story is that Mujuru is alleged to have manipulated the rules and, in connivance with the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, inappropriately and corruptly got a licence to import chickens from Brazil. In other words, the allegation is that she abused her position.
Now, a little aside: A reader, who is a chicken farmer, had written to us a few weeks ago complaining very bitterly, about the flooding of the market due to the bulk importation of cheap Brazilian chickens. Chickens from Brazil are mass produced and cheap. Prices of locally-produced chicken are higher. Brazilian chicken might not taste very well, but it is chicken and it is cheap so people prefer it to the local variety. When it comes to these matters for most people, it is not what is good to the palate that matters but what the pocket can afford. The result he was that the fellow was stuck with almost a quarter of a million chickens and he was panicking as he had put everything into it, hoping for massive returns.
So now, if The Herald is to be believed, the person responsible for the reader’s predicament and perhaps the plight of others is Mujuru. But we know that The Herald has been on a smear campaign against Mujuru, mostly in a bid to break her reputation and turn public opinion against her. We will therefore give her the benefit of the doubt until she is also given the right of response. It would be foolhardy to believe everything that the hunter says of the lion, until the lion has the opportunity to tell its own side of the story. What is of interest however is something that comes at the very end of that story. The line reads as follows:
“He [Chris Mutsvangwa] said VP Mujuru was delivering some of the imported chicken to the Zimbabwe National Army to buy their loyalty in her illegal regime change efforts”.
This is hardly an innocuous statement. It confirms the perception that led the reader to believe that the military had flooded the market with Brazilian chicken. But there is also a suggestion here that Mujuru was in connivance with the army in order to buy their loyalty. Because surely the army is not comprised of stupid individuals who do not know what happens around them. They have a whole intelligence unit – a thorough and well-honed intelligence unit which is reputed to be better and more equipped than the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation. Would they not have known anything about the dirtiness of the Brazilian chickens’ deal?
And what exactly is meant by ‘delivering’ the chicken to the ZNA – was it free, a mere donation? Or were the chickens being sold to the ZNA? Does this not implicate the military in the alleged corruption? There is some indication in all this that the anti-Mujuru faction fears or suspects that Mujuru has some important sympathisers in the military and like all supporting pillars of Mujuru that have been attacked lately, they too, may be coming under attack.
All this suggests that, as the December Congress nears, the military is being dragged into the factional fighting, with suggestions of impropriety being thrown into the mix. And all this points to a potentially very messy scenario.
For now, it should be interesting to see how the military will respond, if at all, to these grave allegations that they were being bought by Mujuru