Mnangagwa Has Demoted Valerio Sibanda
29 October 2023
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Controversy Surrounds President Mnangagwa’s Appointment of Military Commander Valerio Sibanda to Zanu PF Politburo

By A Correspondent | Analysis | President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s recent decision to appoint General Phillip Valerio Sibanda, the Defence Forces commander, to the Zanu PF politburo has sent shockwaves through Zimbabwe, sparking concerns over its constitutionality and implications for the nation’s political landscape.

In a surprising move, Mnangagwa announced that Sibanda would take on the role of an ex-officio member within the Zanu PF politburo. However, this appointment has raised significant constitutional concerns, as it appears to directly contravene the Zimbabwean constitution.

Section 208(3) of the constitution explicitly states, “Members of the security services must not be active members or office-bearers of any political party or organization.” This provision emphasizes the need for a clear separation between the military and political domains, preserving the non-partisan nature of the security services.

Furthermore, Section 211 of the constitution establishes the fundamental principles governing the Defence Forces. It mandates that the Defence Forces must be “non-partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional, and subordinate to the civilian authority as established by this constitution.” General Sibanda’s appointment to a political position within the ruling Zanu PF party raises questions about the military’s commitment to being non-partisan and subordinate to civilian authority, which is a core constitutional requirement.

This development suggests that General Sibanda, who holds a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s military, may now be in a political subordinate position, igniting concerns about the military’s independence from political influence and its alignment with a specific political party.

In addition to the constitutional issues, this development lends credence to previous statements made by ZANU PF Spokesman Christopher Mutsvangwa. Mutsvangwa has alleged that the military has played a significant role in suppressing opposition movements, citing examples such as the 2008 elections, where the opposition MDC faced physical attacks, and the 2018 elections, raising suspicions of military involvement in electoral processes.

The controversial appointment of General Phillip Valerio Sibanda to the Zanu PF politburo has initiated discussions about the military’s role in Zimbabwean politics and the urgency of upholding constitutional principles that safeguard the nation’s democratic values. This development raises serious questions about the military’s influence in politics and its potential impact on the country’s political landscape, creating a situation fraught with uncertainty.

On another note however, video footage from the last 6 years exclusively provided by ZimEye below suggests that Valerio Sibanda has in reality been demoted over his refusal to use the army to attack Nelson Chamisa’s supporters during coups. The first clips unloaded by ZimEye show Valerio Sibanda vehemently defending Chamisa’s supporters when they were being accused by Emmerson Mnangagwa, his deputy Constantino Chiwenga and spokesperson, Chris Mutsvangwa of possessing firearms. The footage is below: