THE future of some service chiefs hangs in the balance as their contracts have not yet been extended by President Robert Mugabe, it has emerged.
Most of the service chiefs had their contracts unilaterally extended for a two-year period in 2012 during the tenure of the power-sharing unity government.
Informed sources said contracts of Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and Commissioner-General of Prisons Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi had expired.
The sources said Chihuri and Central Intelligence Office (CIO) boss Happyton Bonyongwe’s contracts were unlikely to be extended, largely due to the current factional fights in the ruling Zanu PF party.
The extension was not without controversy when the ex-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara demanded that they be involved in extending Chihuri’s contract, as his stay was dividing the coalition government.
Contacted for comment, police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba professed ignorance about the contract extension.
“I don’t know about the contract or its extension,” Charamba said. “This is a personal contract which is private, but, however, I will ask him and come back to you. What is your interest in Commissioner-General Chihuri’s contract, as if he is the only service chief?”
Sources said decorated army chief of staff Lieutenant General Trust Mugoba was tipped to take over from Chihuri.
The extension of the contracts for service chiefs was said to be dependent on the factionalism playing out within Zanu PF.
First Lady Grace Mugabe may have let the cat out of the bag when she castigated the police for not taking action on Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s alleged corruption at one of her countrywide “Meet the People” rallies.
Chihuri’s contract has been extended a record 14 times since he was first appointed as police boss in 1994 after taking over in 1993 as acting police chief.
His first contract expired in 1997.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba was not sure if the service chiefs’ contracts had been extended.
But he said there was nothing to worry about, as any extension would be done in line with the laws of the country.
“If it has not been gazetted then it has not been extended,” he said. “As we speak I’m not sure . . . you should not get worried, everything is under control.”