‘Zanu PF to deploy 80 000 militia for polls’

June 11, 2011 at 8:15 am Leave a comment

Faith Zaba
A COALITION of civic organisations has claimed that more than 80 000 youth
militia, war veterans and army commanders will be deployed across the
country to ensure victory for President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF in the
elections expected after the constitution-making process.

In a damning report titled The Military Factor in Zimbabwe’s Political and
Electoral Affairs launched in Johannesburg yesterday ahead of the Sadc
special summit on Zimbabwe Saturday, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said army
commanders and senior Central Intelligence Officers would be deployed in
each of the country’s 59 districts to coordinate a military campaign to
ensure Mugabe’s continued rule.

The report is based on research conducted between September 2010 and March
2011. The research included interviews with various policy makers, serving
and retired military officers, officials in the inclusive government,
security sector experts, civic society and ordinary Zimbabweans.

The coalition also reviewed various reports on the military by both local
and international civil society organisations, including the Zimbabwe Peace
Project, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum,
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, media reports and other material
on the military involvement in politics and electoral affairs.

“The strategy is to unleash enough violence and terror, worse than that seen
in the bloody 2008 presidential run-off poll in which at least 200 of Morgan
Tsvangirai’s supporters died and tens of thousands others were left
homeless,” reads the report.

“The move is aimed at ensuring that a thoroughly cowed electorate will on
voting day back Mugabe in enough numbers to save the veteran president from
having to face another second round vote.”

Mugabe is now ruling the country through military structures and control in
government and the party. The army has helped ensure Mugabe’s continued
rule, mainly during elections in 2002 and 2008.

At the end of last year, Air Vice Marshal Henry Muchena quit the Air Force
of Zimbabwe to work full-time for the Zanu PF commissariat department to
revamp grassroots structures in preparation for the elections.

The report reads: “Air Vice Marshal Muchena will be in charge of the Zanu PF
election campaign, Major-General Engelbert Rugeje will be in charge of
coordinating Masvingo province.

“Rugeje is reported to have already started the terror campaign on MDC
supporters in the province where he has been blamed for several acts of
violence and intimidation.

“In Mugabe’s Mashonaland West home province, Brigadier General David Sigauke
is tipped to run the brutal campaign to keep the Zanu PF leader in power,
while Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba will be in charge of Manicaland
province.”

The report went on to allege that retired Brigadier Victor Rungani would be
in charge of the campaign in Mashonaland East province, while Air Vice
Marshal Abu Masuku would oversee the campaign in Matabeleland South
province.

Brigadiers-General Sibusio Bussie Moyo and retired Major-Generals
Sibangumuzi Khumalo and Etherton Shungu, the report said, would cover
Midlands, Matabeleland North and Mashonaland provinces, respectively.

“Colonel Chris Sibanda and Air Commodore Michael Karakadzai will,
respectively, run the campaign to neutralise opposition to Mugabe in the
metropolitan provinces of Bulawayo and Harare that are seen as Tsvangirai’s
strongholds,” read the report.

The report said top soldiers of the ranks of major-general,
brigadier-general or air vice marshal, assisted by CIO agents would head
provincial command centres that will direct the onslaught against the MDC.

“Some of the senior commanders have already started work in the provinces
meeting Zanu PF and traditional leaders to plot the way forward. Junior
commanders and hundreds of lover ranking soldiers, some of who have already
been deployed in recent months in villages in some districts will be at the
disposal of the senior commanders,” said the report.

According to Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, sources close to Zanu PF have
said the party has agreed to demands made by the military that 25% of all
legislative seats that Zanu PF would contest should be reserved for serving
or retired military personnel.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition suspects that the recent recruitment of at
least 5 000 soldiers is to boost numbers ahead of elections.

Efforts to get a comment from Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were
fruitless at the time of going to press yesterday, but state media recently
claimed that the minister had tabled a report last Friday during the
National Security Council meeting debunking claims that the army had
deployed soldiers to campaign for Mugabe.

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