The Zimbabwe general that led military intervention against former president Mugabe has become a vice president
Gen. Constantino Chiwenga led military intervention against former president Robert Mugabe.
The general who led the military intervention that ousted longtime leader Robert Mugabe last month has been named as one of the two vice presidents of Zimbabwe’s ruling party on Saturday, setting the stage for him to be appointed vice president of the country.
The appointment of Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who retired as commander of the Zimbabwean Defense Forces earlier this week, as vice president of ZANU-PF is adding to concerns over the armed forces’ role in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
It follows the inclusion of two other senior military officials in the cabinet.
Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo, who announced on television in the early hours of Nov. 15 that the military had taken control of government and that Mr. Mugabe and his family were under house arrest, is Zimbabwe’s foreign minister.
The important ministry of lands, agriculture and rural resettlement is in the hands of the former commander of the Air Force, Perrance Shiri.
Traditionally, the vice presidents of ZANU-PF are also named vice presidents of the country. Asked if, and when, Gen. Chiwenga’s name will be put to the government, Mr. Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba, said the official who needs to make that appointment under the constitution, the chief secretary to the government and cabinet, is currently out of the country.
“As soon as he’s back in the country I’m sure that announcement is done,” Mr. Charamba said.
The prominent role of the military has created unease among Western governments, who are trying to determine what relationship to have with Zimbabwe now that Mr. Mugabe has left. Mr. Mnangagwa—who is still on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list over the violent farm invasions in the late 1990s and early 2000s—has pledged to re-engage with the international community.
His cash-strapped government may also soon need a bailout from the International Monetary Fund to overcome a punishing cash crunch.
Earlier in December, the government dropped high local ownership requirements for most international companies and promised to compensate white farmers whose properties had been expropriated illegally.
Western officials say they want to give Mr. Mnangagwa an opportunity to prove he will run a more open and democratic government than Mr. Mugabe, who ruled the Southern African country with an iron first for 37 years.
But some have voiced concerns that failure to turn around Zimbabwe’s economy or struggling to pay the army, as happened in Mr. Mugabe’s final year-and-a-half in office, could spark another military intervention.
ZANU-PF’s second vice president is Kembo Mohadi, a longtime party official who has served as defense minister since last month.