In a move viewed by many as power consolidation, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa recently appointed Zimbabwe Defence Forces boss Philip Valerio Sibanda an ex officio member of the ZANU PF Politburo.
Apparently, exiled former Minister of Foreign Affairs Affairs says Mnangagwa’s move is recipe for trouble in the future as it would undermine democracy.
An ex officio member is a member of a body, who is part of it by virtue of holding another office” ; in this case Commander of the Defence Forces (CDF ) for General Valerio Sibanda. So he becomes a Politburo Member by “right of office”.
The implications are that much of Cabinet Policies are generated or given direction from the Politburo of Zanu PF as a Ruling Party, and inviting the interest of Securocrats at this policy formulation or generation stage simply reflects an extension of November 2017 power sharing understanding of Zanu PF and the Military.
It is also a consolidation and reset to Liberation War High Command political architecture that steered the liberation struggle.
The unspoken is the subordination of the Military Factor under Zanu PF, which would be problematic in the future if there is a new generation non military leader.
It appears a natural now because in the hierarchy of Zanu PF itself is a former CDF to whom General Sibanda reported but Mnangagwa himself, is a Chairman of the Joint Operation Command under Mugabe, former Defence Minister, right from Independence Minister of State Security.
The precedent though has been of former CDFs joining the Politburo after retirement, as was the case with Generals Mujuru and Zvinavashe which was a cleaner arrangement constitutionally.
Sitting inside a Politburo where the fate of Opposition Parties is plotted and decided creates conflict for a CDF no matter how professional he may want to be seen.
It is these boundaries lately that relate to our State design that are being crossed with reckless abandon and disdain, and it should worry any right thinking Zimbabwean.
To a professional soldier let alone a CDF boss, the appointment is a poisoned chalice whichever way one looks at it.
General Sibanda ratings with the public are respectably fair to high, I pray he treats this appointment with wisdom.