Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chiwenga neglects his greatest asset at his peril

It is striking how neglectful ZANU PF are of the military at a time when arguably the elite in the party are more dependent on them than ever before if they are to retain power.

Many in the military, while loyal to ZANU PF, were deeply uncomfortable with the role they played in the presidential re-election campaign of June 2008. And thereafter, Junior officers and soldiers in particular were understandably frustrated over their terms and conditions of service, particularly with regard to the provision of food, equipment, uniforms, and the poor condition of ZDF accommodation. Chiwenga was inclined to be dismissive, saying complaints of this nature were normal and should not be blown out of proportion.

His view seems to be that strong leadership is all that is required to ensure there is no dissent and that it is soldiers' expectations that needed to be kept under control.

Chiwenga has seemed only concerned to protect own position by promoting his favourites and clamping down on elements he does not trust. He is not concerned about addressing the underlying problems. Chiwenga seems to have no appreciation of the resentment that builds up in the lower ranks over the senior ranks' exploitation of their position, not least in the case of the diamonds in Marange, where soldiers have been able to observe the looting first-hand. Even by the senior ranks, he is held largely responsible for the very low morale in the armed forces and the overall decline in standards in all departments of the military is laid firmly at Chiwenga's door.

The mood in the military has become increasingly charged since the Pomona barracks affair in latter part of last year. The incident provoked widespread suspicion at the time that Chiwenga had stage-managed the theft and the subsequent arrests of over one hundred soldiers and officers on suspicion of involvement in the crime. Chiwenga had been arousing growing resentment across the army command by surrounding himself with a cabal of Zezuru officers, some of whom were believed to have assisted him with the theft from Pomona.

Chiwenga genuinely sees himself as a future political leader outside of the armed forces in Zimbabwe. At least until the party congress he was reportedly confident that Mugabe would secure him a senior political position before he left office. This confidence was largely rooted in the knowledge that Mugabe was indebted to him for surviving as president after the 2008 elections - and would be reliant on his services at the next elections. He is however reported to be disappointed that he has not already been given that senior political position. He may find he needs the support of the Armed Forces if his ever to secure his political ambitions - in which case he will have to look after their interests rather better than he has done to date.

1 comment:

  1. This man does not look after the armed forces, he's only looking out for number 1. I read the news that young soldiers are hungry since Chiwenga was appointed army commander. He's no good for the army.