REPORT : Douglas Nyikayaramba Next Army Boss
COLOGNE | Top army general, and one of President Robert Mugabe’s staunchest backers in the military, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, is reportedly leading the hot race to become the next Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Commander, when the incumbent Lieutenant-General Philip Valerio Sibanda is promoted to takeover as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander anytime soon, Spotlight Zimbabwe reported on Friday.
Army sources well-versed with the behind the scenes development at Defence House, who spoke to this publication on Monday said Maj-Gen Nyikayaramba is leading the race for the influential post, barely five years after being controversially appointed by Mugabe from Brigadier-General to his present rank, where he works as ZNA Chief of Staff (Administration) in the capital.
Nyikayaramba who commanded the Three Infantry Brigade in Mutare prior to his elevation, has previously called for a “life presidency” for Mugabe, and is also believed to be very close to vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The Major-General is also thought to be in good books with ZDF Commander, General Constantino Chiwenga.
“This is all political factionalism manifesting itself in the military,” said one of the senior army sources. “Nyikayaramba’s rise is shocking as he has been fast-tracked ahead of other senior soldiers, partly because he has good chemistry with Mnangagwa and Chiwenga. Furthermore Mugabe appears to favour him, as he was pivotal in driving the ruling party’s re-election campaign during the 2008 runoff, under tactical instructions from the VP who was campaign manager for Mugabe.”
Nyikayaramba has also played a similar important role, over a decade ago by ensuring Mugabe won the 2002 presidential elections, when he was chief executive officer of the Elections Supervisory Commission.
“It is not a coincidence that Nyikayaramba this week condemned corruption by senior government officials when he appeared before parliament,” another military officer based at King George VI Barracks (KGVI) said. “We are now witnessing very telling events, as those remarks are aimed at damaging the political prospects of those opposed to the vice president. Your guess is as good as mine, as to which faction Nyikayaramba belongs to, and on whose behalf he’s speaking. Clearly their side is winning.”
“Corruption is a cancer which is taking the nation backwards, thereby causing insecurity to the nation,” Nyikayaramba was reported to have said by the media. “It is now a security threat because it is causing people to create mafias or alliances where if one is corrupt, he quickly asks for the help of other big names to protect him or her. Do not look at the face of individuals or their positions when dealing with corruption because that will lead to disaster. If ordinary people see that nothing is being done to corrupt individuals, that will lead to disgruntlement and eventually instability.”
Political analysts and members of the public see Nyikayaramba’s salvo on graft, as directed at the G40 faction in the ruling party, reported to include among others vice president, Phelekezela Mphoko, and ministers Jonathan Moyo and Saviour Kasukuwere. The cabinet duo is currently under the spotlight for alleged corruption and abuse of office.
Spotlight Zimbabwe claims to have been on the ball, with regards to sweeping changes which are expected to take place in the military leadership of the country, as a result of the never ending factional and succession wars in Zanu PF. On 18 March we disclosed the pending vice presidency of General Chiwenga, which is said to have been brewing since around 2008,reportedly mooted and involving former Ethiopian leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam now exiled in Zimbabwe after receiving asylum in 1991. Mengistu is believed to be the brainchild of the scheme, as a hired national security consultant of the military.
Chiwenga’s elevation, as we also revealed in a follow-up report on 29 July this year, is expected to pave way for Lt Gen Sibanda to be appointed ZDF Commander, and promoted to the rank of General. Likewise, as we have come to know today, Sibanda’s rise will likely land Nyikayaramba his ZNA post, reportedly out of Zanu PF factional political consideration, instead of merit.
Nyikayaramba’s likely promotion to lead the army, ahead of other generals who are thought to be more qualified such as Herbert Chingono and Fidelis Satuku, might cause friction and division in the military, other army insiders said. Chingono and Satuku appear to be suffering the bad omen of being implicated in WikiLeaks disclosures, that they secretly met former United States ambassador to Harare Charles Ray in 2010. Chingono was quoted by a leaked diplomatic cable describing Chiwenga as a “political general” who has “very little practical military experience or expertise”
Private media reported last December that: “Chiwenga and his backers wanted Chingono and Satuku charged with ‘treason or subversion’ for secretly meeting Ray to discuss Zimbabwe’s ‘sensitive military issues’ and politics in contravention of the Defence Forces Act, their code of conduct and ethics.”
A minister who has previously served in one of the security ministries during the Government of National Unity (GNU), said Nyikayaramba is certain to be promoted if Mnangagwa comes to power as President. As if to confirm this, Nyikayaramba boasted at a rally in Bikita in Masvingo province in 2012: “President Mugabe will rule for a while and then leave office for his top lieutenant, the Crocodile (Mnangagwa),” he told shocked villagers.Spotlight