After Mugabe: Why can not the role of the Zimbabwean army be trusted?


Yvonne Rowa, University of Adelaide

The forced resignation of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe invites a new examination of the role of the army in political affairs. While a professional soldier is normally expected to abstain from politics, the interface between security and politics can sometimes be blurred.

In Kenya, for example, the Chiefs of Staff generally come from the ethnic community of the president making them partisan at the head of politics. state and the party he represents. More recently, there have been allegations of military involvement in a scheme of electoral fraud with the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Other countries such as Uganda, Egypt and Thailand have experienced more flagrant examples of the involvement of the military in politics.

events in Zimbabwe need to be understood within this context. The last trick of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) should be read as a political subterfuge. The military has been enmeshed in Zimbabwean politics since the liberation struggle. While he has occasionally flexed his muscles to support Mugabe's power, this time he has intervened to shore up the incipient support of the ruling party after years of the unpopular government of the former president.

Officers who call the melody

The ZDF has been an invisible actor in the protracted crisis in the country. The intervention that resulted in Mugabe's resignation was the result of a slow coup that has been caused by the army's participation in the country's policy since independence in 1980.

The army has been accused of violence and intimidation , as well as participation in poor electoral practices ZDF human rights violations, economic plunder and political entanglement have been widely documented. And his professional misconduct has fostered poor civic-military relations.

The military takeover is therefore a manifestation of backgrounds that have been present for years.

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The Zimbabwe Defense Force has taken control of the country's political affairs.
Philimon Bulawayo / Reuters

According to the latest research, Zimbabwe ranks 81 out of 133 countries in terms of military strength, just after the nation of Kuwait in the Middle East, and a rank above Georgia, which is a former Russian territory. It has a total of 52,000 military personnel, 30,000 active employees and 22,000 reserves.

ZDF is proud to have been the liberator in the country's struggle for independence. During the struggle for independence, political figures were deployed at the military base to motivate the combatants. At that time, the African National Union of Zimbabwe (ZANU) was the political wing of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA). This close relationship between military and political wings persisted after independence.

Mugabe has regularly gifted the military by allocating exploited resources. He has also rewarded military with high positions in the civil service to maintain his loyalty, for example, the deceased Mike Karakadzai and Samuel Muvuti. These dynamics have progressively obscured the separation between the army, the state and the party.

Open support for the ZANU Patriotic Front

The army has been openly partisan in its support of ZANU-PF. The policy of patronage and accumulation of wealth has characterized the relationship on both sides. By suppressing the opposition, ZDF has created an unequal political playing field through intimidation and electoral fraud. The Joint Operations Command that coordinates the army, police and intelligence has been fundamental to the security policy of ZANU-PF.

The military also adopted an openly antagonistic stance towards the opposition. An example of this was the description of Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as a threat to national security.

In designing the overthrow of Mugabe, the army has reaffirmed its position as an important player in Zimbabwe's politics. You can not hesitate to intervene in case of another "national crisis".

Factors in the overthrow of Mugabe

In their clamor to overthrow an oppressive ruler and his ambitious wife, the people of Zimbabwe have pinned their hopes on a torturous military man.

It is difficult to know if Mugabe's Achilles heel was his wife, Grace, or an equally intriguing military man, which drew him into a false sense of security and then betrayed him when he could not satisfy his political whims. [19659003] The current political crisis could be the culminating point of an involuntary convergence of machinations on both sides. By casting Grace as the villain and taking on the role of savior, the military tries to erase the part he has played in Zimbabwe's politics.

By joining the calls for the installation of former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, people seem to have momentarily discounted their dark past in the country's politics. Examples of his misdeeds include his role as principal architect in the Gukurahundi mbadacres that took place between 1983 and 1987. Approximately 20,000 Ndebele were killed by the military and security forces.

Another dark cloud looming over him includes his special relationship with the military. They participated together in the economic plundering of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The former vice president has also been known to persecute his opponents.

While he has the support of ZANU-PF and the military high command when he becomes president, he will face the challenge of disbadociating himself from his turbulent past.

What's next for Zimbabwe?

The military takeover strongly suggests that uniformed men try to determine the political trajectory of the country. As such, there are limited leadership options open for Zimbabweans. With the support of the military, Mnangagwa will take over in the meantime and possibly win a future election. But it has a tainted past, which the ZDF can not sanitize. And its installation could plunge the country into greater uncertainty.

For Zimbabwe to take a different route, two things must happen: radical reforms in the security sector that have stalled since 2008 must be revived. These reforms should be aimed at professionalizing the sector by addressing past misconduct, the integration of human rights and the introduction of community policing. This should go hand in hand with the depoliticization of the sector and the demilitarization of the state and some civilian populations.

 The Conversation In addition, the people of Zimbabwe need to agree on a framework for a viable transitional justice process.

Yvonne Rowa, PhD Candidate in Politics and International Studies, University of Adelaide

This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article.

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