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Chiwenga Fortifies Military Influence Amidst Political Maneuvers

Zimbabwe’s Vice-President, Constantino Chiwenga, a retired commander of the defence forces with political aspirations, has recently consolidated his hold on the military by installing Air Marshal John Jacob Nzvede as the new head of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, succeeding Air Marshal Elson Moyo.

Nzvede, a close ally of Chiwenga, joins Lieutenant-General Anselem Sanyatwe as part of Chiwenga’s inner circle. Their camaraderie was evident during Chiwenga’s wedding to Colonel Miniyothabo Baloyi, a military intelligence officer two decades his junior, which held significant political implications for Zimbabwe’s future, particularly concerning debates around presidential term limits.

Chiwenga’s wedding, a grand affair attended by key military figures, served as a platform to underscore his political ambitions and strategic moves, particularly regarding the ongoing discussion on presidential term limits.

Notably, figures like retired Air Marshal Shebba Shumbayawonda and retired Lieutenant-General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, symbolizing regional influence, were prominently involved in the ceremony. Ndaitwah’s connections to Namibia’s political landscape, where his spouse serves as deputy Prime Minister and is poised to become President, further bolster Chiwenga’s political prospects.

The resurgence of Sanyatwe, a former Presidential Guard commander, alongside other allies who were previously sidelined, signals a significant power shift within both Zanu PF and the state apparatus.

Chiwenga’s renewed grip on the military, following the removal of his allies post the 2017 coup, signifies his resurgence amidst a contentious power struggle with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who seeks an unprecedented third term.

In response to Mnangagwa’s maneuvering, Chiwenga strategically places his allies within key military structures to mount a formidable challenge against Mnangagwa’s third-term bid.

As the succession battle within Zanu PF intensifies, Mnangagwa maintains influence through the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander, General Philip Valerio Sibanda, albeit temporarily. Mnangagwa’s attempt to appoint Sibanda into the Zanu PF politburo was met with resistance, reflecting the complex power dynamics at play.

Chiwenga’s meticulous orchestration of military appointments aims to secure his path to presidency post-Mnangagwa, with figures like retired Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje poised to assume pivotal roles.

The interplay between military and political forces underscores Zimbabwe’s intricate power dynamics, shaped by historical legacies and contemporary ambitions. Chiwenga’s maneuvers signify a pivotal chapter in Zimbabwe’s political landscape, where military influence continues to shape the country’s trajectory.

ZiMetro

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