Chiwenga, a general who always wanted to be a politician



11.  (C) Regarding predictions on the future of Zimbabwe, both officers expressed cautious optimism.  Military  personnel who are older and more experienced take a pragmatic view of difficulties compared to the younger generation.  Life, they said, teaches us to expect a certain amount of difficulty and conflict, and the situation with the current coalition government is no different.  Anyone who thinks there would be little or no conflict in such an arrangement is very naive.  Having said that, it is essential that both sides in the coalition government work out their differences because they owe it to the people who elected them.  The people of Zimbabwe want to be able to live their lives in peace; they want a house, a car, and education for their children.  Many, perhaps even most, in the military want to be able to pursue their profession in an honorable manner. When the government, or the press, report that everything is rosy, they said, it is time to be suspicious, because it means they are concealing something.  The events of 2008 when the military was used to violate the human rights of those who opposed ZANU-PF are, Chingono said, hopefully an anomaly that will never happen again.  When asked why officers who want to be professional didn't oppose such employment, he said, "In a professional military, you can be court-martialed for failing to carry out an order."  (COMMENT:  This raises questions of culpability for following an illegal order, similar to the arguments advanced at the Nuremberg Tribunal after WWII, but one can also see the motivation for this, given the potentially fatal consequences here in Zimbabwe. END COMMENT.)

 12.  (C) Chingono said that if the West insists on prosecution of all personnel involved in the 2008 violence   and the killings in Matabeleland, this is likely to ensure  that those in power will do everything to retain that power.  The Ambassador pointed out that these are issues that the  people of Zimbabwe have to decide, but that there should at  least be some forum established to allow healing.  Regarding any military involvement in violent land seizures, however, this is a politically-motivated criminal act, perpetrators can be identified, and the legal system should take appropriate action.

 13.  (C) Both Chingono and Satuku said they would like to see re-engagement with the U.S. military because they and many of their colleagues are impressed with the flexibility and resilience of American military personnel. They also think that the generation of military officers that will follow them could benefit from exposure to American military professionalism.  When asked about ethnic conflict in the military, the treatment of non-liberation officers, and morale, their response was that: (a) when people face hardships together, external differences tend to be minimized; (b) there is at the junior- and mid-levels no difference in treatment, and most units below battalion are commanded by officers who entered the military after 1980; and (c) while morale now is acceptable, if they're unable to keep the military productively occupied, there are likely to be problems in the future.  Satuku said that, if there were no discipline problems with young soldiers (provided they don't interfere with mission accomplishment) he would be worried, because it is not possible to have a grouping of young men in such an environment and not have at least a few problems.  Professional officers, though, can deal with these issues.  The key to keeping the military in good order, both officers said, is continued economic stability and growth which will allow the military to have an adequate flow of resources.

14.  (C) COMMENT:  These views are from only two people, and can't be extrapolated to represent a general consensus of the military.  But, they are instructive, and tend to validate other information we hear about what goes on inside the ZDF.




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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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