Former ZPRA cadres who have assumed various leadership positions in the country`s security services no longer represent the values and ethos of the former liberation movement but that of the current political leadership said an ex-ZPRA intelligence official, Jeremy Brickhill.
The current commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) General Phillip Vario Sibanda is an ex-ZPRA cadre.
He assumed the powerful position in December 2017 after the former army general Constantino Chiwenga joined politics and was appointed one of the two country`s vice presidents.
In an interview on the eve of the burial of national hero and former ZPRA deputy chief of operations Stanley Nleya,in June, Sibanda said: “It’s unfortunate that after Independence some of us went wayward and started amassing wealth and getting involved in corruption.”
Members of the army have, of late, been implicated in widespread abuses across the country as they conducted a violent crackdown on civilians notably during the August 1 killings in 2018 and the January 2019 Shutdown Protests.
Due to such action, Brickhill argues that the ZDF leadership should not be identified as former ZPRA as they have spent more years in the security services than they spent in the former liberation army.
Responding to questions during a CITE public lecture on ZPRA – The People’s Army recently, Brickhill said ZPRA existed as a disciplined force that ceased to exist in 1981 during disarmament.
Brickhill noted that the army leadership may have been oriented and developed origins from ZPRA but that was separate from what they were leading now.
“As former ZPRA, I hope their capabilities were developed but I don’t think you can ascribe any of their responsibilities or behaviour now to ZPRA because they have spend about 35 to 40 years not in ZPRA,” said the ex-ZPRA member.
“ZDF has been under a totally different influence, involved in a very total different construction of politics under a reactionary nationalist regime essentially building a black a capitalist power structure in this country.”
Brickhill defined the army leadership as the armed forces of the current ruling class.
“Not the ruling class that ZPRA forces of the 1970s believed they were going to achieve. So, I don’t see them as ZPRA and I don’t see their behaviour as representing anything we believed in the 1970s,” he said.
“They are the instruments of a new ruling class and they have been for many years and I don’t think you should expect much more from them than what you are saying.”
Contacted for comment ZNA spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel, Elphious Makotore, said the army would not comment on opinions made by an individual.
“It is our policy as an organisation that we don’t comment on opinions,” he told CITE over a telephone interview.
In an interview, ZPRA Veterans Trust Association Spokesperson, Buster Magwizi, concurred with Brickhill that the former cadres could not rely on people such as General Sibanda to aid their cause.
“General Sibanda was now constitutionally appointed as the commander of the ZDF. We do not want to conflict him on these roles, which are constitutional and at the same time where his history is ZPRA. We don’t want him to be seen to be siding specifically or leaning with ZPRA although he was a ZPRA cadre,” he said.