Former police commissioner Augustine Chihuri did not side with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction in the days of the Zanu-PF succession battles when late President Robert Mugabe was still in power due to a long-standing acrimony from the war of liberation.
According to a research paper by Oxford University based researcher Blessing Miles Tendi, Mnangagwa during the war caused Chihuri’s arrest over trumped up charges and snatched the former police commissioner’s lover while he was in detention.
After the November 2017 coup that removed Mugabe, Mnangagwa “retired” Chihuri as head of police and replaced him with Godwin Matanga.
Below is the excerpt from Tendi’s paper titled “The Motivation and Dynamics of Zimbabwe’s 2017 Military Coup.”
“Chihuri disagreed intensely with Mugabe’s purge of Joice Mujuru in 2014, which beneﬁted his adversary Mnangagwa politically. He therefore refused to side with the Mnangagwa faction against G40, even though Mnangagwa’s group had from 2015 onward grown to represent the interests of many liberation struggle actors in ZANU PF. But Chihuri loathed Mnangagwa chieﬂy because of their spiteful history in the liberation struggle.
“Chihuri, then a ZANLA military training instructor, was in 1978 incarcerated for purportedly plotting to stage a coup against the ZANU PF leadership. According to Chihuri, ZANU PF’s security department, which was overseen by Mnangagwa, falsiﬁed intelligence to implicate him in the purported coup scheme.
“Chihuri was imprisoned from 1978 until the end of the liberation war in December 1979. He was tortured and resided in squalid prison conditions.
“After release, Chihuri found that Mnangagwa had been romantically involved with his lover while he was in prison and Chihuri endured stigma in ZANU PF for being a ‘counter-revolutionary’ in the liberation war, a charge he refuted.
“Chihuri’s account further validates the enduring signiﬁcance of liberation war time histories and it showcases how these histories sometimes stimulated contradictory behaviours. Liberation history and struggle values inﬂuenced the convergence of many independence war participants in opposition to G40,but in some cases, like that of Chihuri and Mnangagwa, they sustained lasting divisions between ex-liberation struggle partakers…..”