President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seeking to mollify his deputy Constantino Chiwenga, has been forced to promote four army generals that he recently sent on retirement.
Chiwenga was receiving treatment in India when Mnangagwa made a shock announcement that he had retired Major Generals Anselem Sanyatwe, Martin Chedondo and Douglas Nyikayaramba as well as Air Marshal Sheba Shumbayawonda.
Sanyatwe, a close ally of Chiwenga, was only promoted from Brigadier General to the rank of Major General in December after commanding an army unit that killed six people and shot 35 others on the streets of Harare in post-election protests last August.
Chiwenga, a former commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who is close to the men, was said to be furious with Mnangagwa’s decision to deploy the generals on diplomatic service. Sanyatwe, in particular, was reported to have rejected a posting to Tanzania.
In a surprise announcement on Friday, Mnangagwa promoted the quartet to the second highest rank in Zimbabwe’s military – Lieutenant General.
The new rank means the four generals leave active service with far better retirement benefits, and can be recalled to assume command in times of crisis, a military official said.
Conferring the new ranks on Friday, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda told them: “We urge you to continue working hard as you used to before.”
Lieutenant General Chedondo, on behalf of the quartet, said: “We thank the President Cde Mnangagwa for the trust and confidence he showed in us and it is our pledge that we will continue supporting him to achieve his vision.”