Zimbabwe's Military Government Has Now Shown Its Hand

Harare, Zimbabwe 02 October 2009

After the shocking developments of Wednesday, when Commissions and Boards of Directors for Zimbabwe's media were packed full of military men by Mugabe and ZANU PF, it has now emerged that, in fact, Zimbabwe is a military state in the mould of Angola.

A senior ZANU PF official who I spoke to yesterday afternoon was quite clear to me about this.

He stated quite openly:

"There was a military coup in this country on June 27 last year (the date of the violent presidential run-off election between Mugabe and Tsvangirai). The Inclusive Government changed nothing because Tsvangirai did not negotiate with the military. He negotiated with Gushungo (Mugabe)."

Apart from the breach of the spirit behind the Inclusive Government, I was merely now trying to find out what the reasoning is behind putting soldiers in charge of media matters across the board, from Supervisory bodies to the functional boards of directors.

This was the answer.

Zimbabwe is in the hands of the military now. Despite the presence of the MDC in government, it is the military that is running the show. Cabinet, Council of Ministers, civil service - these are all just one giant charade.

The things that matter, such as the control of Zimbabwe's vast diamond and other mineral resources, are in the hands of the military.

The continued existence of JOC (Joint Operations Command) is an indication of the fact that there is another, real cabinet in Zimbabwe besides the one run by Mugabe and deputised by Joice Mujuru and Morgan Tsvangirai.

This explains why, even though parliament interviewed candidates for the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe and forwarded names, this process has been ignored. Names put together by the Joint Operations Command, the Military and Police, together with Mugabe and ZANU PF, have carried the day.

It is inconceivable now to some people, but I can assure you that every single effort being made by parliament is a waste of time. You will see this when and if the Zimbabwe Media Commission is put in place. It will bear no resemblance to whatever parliament recommended.

So, in effect, the whole government structure is redundant, an exercise in futility and simply there to implement the orders and wishes of the Zimbabwe armed and uniformed forces.

The senior ZANU PF minister I spoke to today also made another chilling revelation, which many will find hard to swallow:

The results of the next election are already decided. "You can craft as many constitutions as you want, but votes are not counted by the constitution."

There was also another surprising admission: the only reason the armed forces and the powerful generals agreed to the Tsvangirai Inclusive Government deal is that they were afraid of SADC.

Yes, really.

SADC is quite clear that any country in the region that stages a coup is immediately declared a rogue state, suspended from SADC and remains suspended until it restores civilian rule.

So, Mugabe, who has always been a front for the military in Zimbabwe, was made the civilian face of the military coup of June 27.

For those who do not know, Mugabe owes his position in ZANU PF to the military. As the late Joshua Nkomo wrote in his book, it was at State House in Zambia in the 1970s that General Mujuru was asked by Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia to provide a name for the "spokesman" of ZANLA, the ZANU guerrilla army that was then fighting against the white regime in Rhodesia.

The fighters had just rejected the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole as leader of ZANU. Mujuru, then known by his war name of Rex Nhongo, went back to Mozambique to consult with his fellow fighters and according to Dr Nkomo, when he came back, he handed Nkomo a piece of paper on which Mugabe's name was written.

Mugabe was at that time Secretary-General of ZANU.

So Mugabe became the "spokesman" of the fighting man, the civilian face of the ZANU military machine.

His eloquence, shrewdness and ruthlessness then saw him gain control over the party where he effectively became the Supreme Leader that he is today.

Of course, when things started going pear-shaped in the late 90s, Mugabe, who had always been careful to give his soldiers all that they wanted, turned to them again for help. They obliged and he is now in their debt.

It would be naive to believe, as was widely reported last year during the violence of the run-off, that Mugabe wanted to resign and accept defeat but was forced to stay on by the Generals. Mugabe wants this as much as the generals do. He is an active and willing participant, to the extent that it becomes impossible to determine who is using who in this relationship.

Mugabe is an ideologue who believes that he is still on a mission, still fighting the colonial powers and "imperialists."

To be able to continue this, he has now fallen back on people who have a completely different motivation: accumulation of wealth. He turns a blind eye to this primarily because he believes his own cause justifies the plunder.

All that has happened here is that military regime in Zimbabwe has shown its hand in these appointments. Only the fact that there is an Inclusive Government in place has actually unmasked this reality.

Even before the inauguration of the Inclusive Government, army men were positioned in every government company and ministry. We had a retired Colonel running the national granary, the Grain Marketing Board. We had Brigadiers, retired Colonels and so on sitting on the boards of various government companies.

We never raised an eyebrow then because there was no reason to read anything into it.

But now, with Tsvangirai in government, with the principle of the separation of powers between the armed forces and the civilian administration supposedly taking root, someone is willing to see this Inclusive Government put to death on account of Brigadiers and Colonels who are being put in place to oversee the media, even though they have no experience with the industry at all.

Yet we should never make the mistake of thinking that Mugabe is a hostage to the military. Rather, the two feed off each other. Mugabe has an antiquated ideological drive that he needs to pursue to what he sees as its logical conclusion.

The military want the power that gives them unfettered access to the riches of Zimbabwe. More than any other group, they feel entitled to the fat of the land because they "fought for it."

I have said before that liberators never make the best governors. Revolutionaries can not run a government. Nelson Mandela, though saintly in his soul and mind, was simply incapable of governing a modern state.

What he was absolutely needed for, though, was to build and watch over the bridge from apartheid to a democratic society free from vengeance and vindictiveness. He realised this, served one term and put in someone whom he thought was capable of actually getting grips with a thrusting 21st Century nation-state, to develop it and water the roots set down by the revolutionaries - the Mandelas and Tambos.

But in Zimbabwe today, we still have a revolutionary in power, who has never stopped fighting the British and the white man in his mind. To him, the ideology is bigger than everything else, which is why he could scold Zimbabweans last year, telling them "not to think the world has come to an end simply because you can not find salt in the shops."

Because of this mentality, elections are of no consequence except as an indication of whether the people need "re-education" to fall in line with their leaders or not.

"The pen, " Mugabe told an Independence Day rally at Gwanzura stadium last year, "can not be mightier than the sword."

He described the elections as "a little X on a piece of paper" and asked if anyone thought that "we can let the country go, just because of that X?"

Nothing further is needed to confirm that we are indeed living in a military state, even with the Inclusive Government in place.


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