Though it is unconstitutional, Zimbabwe’s military has a part in determining how elections should be carried out in favour of who they want.


This was recently confirmed by Zimbabwe National Army commander Ansleem Sanyatwe during a rally.


Sanyatwe declared that the opposition would never rule the country saying the army would force for their desired electoral outcome.


Apparently, in the 2023 elections, Mnangagwa sidelined the army and used the Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ) in running the polls.


FAZ is operated by the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) and its agents were reportedly used to ‘rig’ the elections. This would have angered the army, putting Mnangagwa’s 2030 bid in turmoil.


Meanwhile, systematic, gradual military pressure and internal Zanu PF succession manoeuvres after last year’s general elections in which the army was sidelined forced President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hand into making yesterday’s unexpected public announcement that he will retire in 2028 in line with the national constitution, The NewsHawks has been told.


This came at a time when Mnangagwa’s supporters are intensifying campaigning for him to cling onto power beyond his 2028 constitutional limit to 2030.


But Mnangagwa said in Mutare yesterday he will comply with the Zanu PF and national constitutions to retire, although this remains touch-and-go as his party allies and supporters want him to stay on.


After the intelligence-sponsored FAZ ran last year’s elections sidelining the military, the traditional power broker in Zanu PF and Zimbabwean politics, Mnangagwa’s deputy retired General Constantino Chiwenga and his key allies, including Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Anselem Sanyatwe, crawled out of the woodwork to raise the stakes on succession to determine who comes after Mnangagwa, NewsHawks sources say.


The same sources told The NewsHawks that the army was going to push back after the elections to reclaim control and determine the succession outcome, opening a new era into military leadership.


They want Mnangagwa, whom they installed through a 2017 coup, to leave on or before 2028 – insisting it is time up for him.


“The issue is that the President has to comply with the Zanu PF and national constitutions, but that is no longer good enough. He needs to go on or before 2028, preferably before, given current economic hardships and that youths are becoming impatient, especially in the face of mass unemployment, corruption and many problems the country faces.


“The situation in Kenya is a good lesson for us. Zimbabwe needs a new leader and a new deal. Things have not changed under the incumbent,” a top military leader told The NewsHawks in a detailed briefing last night.


“Even those in the security sector who helped to install the President are deeply unhappy with the situation and state of the nation. Things have to change, of course from inside, not these opposition things.”


This situation is increasingly fueling the disguised political brinkmanship between Mnangagwa and Chiwenga.


Mnangagwa, who fancies himself as Munhumutapa, a reference to historical Shona kings, was supposed to have left in 2023 in terms of their coup deal, but hung onto power, which he now wanted to extend further through a third term or another back door political deal until the army stepped in.


Sanyatwe, who fiercely loyal to Chiwenga, is now restoring the army’s role and grip on politics, looking forward to 2028 where “commanding voting” will be used to ensure Zanu PF “rules forever” under a new leader and more anticipated military successors – the real plan for the army.


Sanyatwe’s remarks that there is going to be “command voting” and Zanu PF will “rule forever” are targeted at addressing the internal situation and create visibility and sway, although they have a chilling effect on national democratic politics, constitutionalism and rule of law, the sources said.


Sketching a typology of army role in Zimbabwe, the source showed the military remains highly politicised, weaponised and geared to achieve specific political outcomes.


From the historic Mgagao Declaration in 1975 during the liberation struggle which installed the late former president Robert Mugabe as Zanu leader through the Mozambican years, into the period of his power capture, consolidation and retention after 1980, and further beyond 2000, the army loomed large on Zimbabwean politics.


The army’s dabbling in local politics was made more explicit on 9 January 2002, when the full repertoire of top generals donning full regalia appeared on television arbitrarily redefining the criteria of the presidency, outside the electoral norm, but in support of the incumbent in a mutually beneficial politico-military relationship ahead of the presidential election that year.


Mugabe scraped through against the late founding opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai with heavy military intervention amid bloodshed.
Those interventions persisted from January 2002 to June 2008 until November 2017 when the army ousted Mugabe.


On 21 November 2017, Mugabe was compelled to tender his resignation at gunpoint after his isolation amid the violent seizure of power through a coup codenamed Operation Restore Legacy on 14-15 November.


Reluctantly learning from recent history, Mnangagwa is yielding to pressure, which his political master, Mugabe, failed to do.


But then the army interlocutor warns Mnangagwa is not going to go quietly unless forced to do so with irresistible pressure.


Zwnews/ Newshawks