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30 October 2023
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Is the Politburo Appointment of Valerio Sibanda a Promotion Rather Than A Demotion?

By Prof David Chimurenga (War Veteran) | ZimEye | The recent appointment of General Phillip Valerio Sibanda to the politburo has raised questions about whether this move constitutes a promotion rather than a demotion.

Emmerson Mnangagwa greeting Valerio Sibanda before appointing him to the politburo in Gweru

During the war, Josiah Tongogara held the rank of a general and was part of the Dare of Herbert Chitepo. His deputy was responsible for operations within the Dare. This structure was designed to ensure that politicians had a representative from ZANLA in the Dare ReChimurenga.

However, after the Lancaster negotiations and independence, the practice of having a military figure in the Dare was discontinued. In contrast, in the Chinese system, a military figure is typically a part of the decision-making process.

Following independence, there were proposals to appoint the most senior military personnel to political leadership positions in order to prevent a coup. General Sibanda’s promotion serves two key purposes:

  1. It may be aimed at managing Constantino Chiwenga. Among those involved in the 2017 coup, only Chiwenga, Valerio Sibanda, and Anselem Sanyatwe remain. In China, Lin Piao, who was second in command to Chairman Mao Tsetung before 1949, was assigned to the Soviet Union and subsequently had his plane shot down, similar to Prigozhin’s fate. This is a characteristic of many communist setups, where political maneuvering can lead to dramatic changes.
  2. The promotion of General Sibanda may serve to keep Chiwenga off balance and prevent him from realizing that he is being outmaneuvered. Kembo Mohadi’s collapse suggests that he is on his way out, and the plan may be to elevate Jacob Mudenda and promote him. If Mudenda successfully manages the recalls and ZANU PF attains an absolute majority in parliament, he may receive further promotion. In this context, General Sibanda’s strength and influence are essential.
  3. Another possibility is that this move is aimed at making Valerio the Vice President, with Mudenda as the 2nd Vice President. This move could be reminiscent of Equatorial Guinea’s President Nguema, whose son serves as Vice President.
  4. Lastly, it’s possible that this move by Mnangagwa is intended to pave the way for his sons to succeed him in the future.
  5. Diluting Valerio Sibanda is vital because he has publicly exhibited resistance against Emmerson Mnangagwa’s attempts to smear his boss(Mnangagwa’s) opponent Nelson Chamisa after the 1 August 2018 military coup operation. (video on ZimEye)

This complex political maneuvering raises questions about the underlying motivations and dynamics within ZANU PF and the potential implications for the country’s leadership structure.- ZimEye