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ZDF Commander’s Politburo Appointment Is A Poisoned Chalice, Says Exiled Minister

Former Cabinet minister Walter Mzembi, who is in self-exile, has expressed his opinion on the appointment of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander General Philip Valerio Sibanda as an ex-officio member of the Zanu PF Politburo. He believes that this is a poisoned chalice for the general, who will be conflicted by the partisan politics of the ruling party.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced yesterday that Sibanda would join the Politburo, a crucial decision-making body of Zanu PF.

He also appointed Rose Mpofu as Secretary for People with Disabilities in the Politburo, replacing the late national hero Joshua Teke Malinga, who passed away last month.

General Sibanda has been leading the ZDF since December 2017, after the military intervention that ousted former President Robert Mugabe and ushered in Mnangagwa. Before that, he was the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army.

Mzembi wrote on Twitter that the appointment of Sibanda into the Politburo reflects an extension of the power-sharing arrangement between Zanu PF and the military that was established in November 2017. He also said that it is a return to the liberation war high command political structure that steered the struggle for independence. However, he warned that this would pose a problem in the future if there is a new generation leader who is not from the military.

He added that the involvement of securocrats in policy formulation and direction at the Politburo level undermines the constitutional separation of powers and roles between the state and the party. He said that it also creates a conflict of interest for a CDF who is supposed to be professional and impartial, especially when dealing with opposition parties.

He concluded by urging General Sibanda to treat this appointment with wisdom.