Zanu-PF shoring up army illegally – violent poll expected
By Jan Raath
Harare – More that 10 000 people have been hired “illegally” in Zimbabwe by
ministries run by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, including those
responsible for the army and police, Finance Minister Tendai Biti has
Biti is tasked with implementing austerity measures, as the southern African
country tries to dig itself out of a deep economic hole.
But the minister, who is a member of the former opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) – Zanu-PF’s partner in government – has had trouble
reigning in ministries run by Mugabe’s party.
“The two chief culprits are the ministry of defence, which employed 4 600
since January, and the ministry of home affairs which has recruited 1 200
personnel without Treasury approval,” Biti told Parliament last week.
The addition of new recruits was exacerbating the acute shortage of food at
army barracks and adding to a wage bill Zimbabwe could not afford, he said.
“Even if they are ‘illegal,’ they are now part of the force,” said Biti.
But their recruitment has raised even deeper concerns in the country where
polls have been fraught with violence over the past decade.
“All the indications are that the military is preparing for elections and
for a violent election, like there was in 2008,” said Dewa Manhinga, a South
Africa-based political analyst for Crisis Coalition, an international think
The military has in recent months vocally supported Zanu-PF and dismissed
the MDC, which is led by Mugabe’s main rival in 2008 and current prime
minister, Morgan Tsvangirai.
MDC not allowed
Last week the army’s Chief of Staff Major-General Trust Mugoba declared at a
public parade: “We will not even allow them (the MDC) to go into office.”
When Biti at a ministerial meeting last week refused to pay the wages of the
new army recruits, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly threatened
him with violence.
The MDC has been the target of state-sponsored violence in the past.
Tsvangirai was arrested and severely beaten by police in the run-up to the
MDC supporters were among the more than 200 people reportedly killed by
security forces, in what was widely regarded as a fraudulent poll that saw
Mugabe return to office for a sixth term.
The 88-year-old who became prime minister at independence in 1980 and later
moved into the presidency, is widely expected to run for office in the next
“The country has already started recording an increase in cases of
politically-motivated violence and we must rely on the likes of Mnangagwa,
as a senior government official to denounce unruly behaviour,” said an MDC
“The defence minister must know that there are other means of solving
challenges other than by threats and intimidation.”
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