Mnangagwa appoints top general to Zanu PF Politburo

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda as an ex-officio member of the Zanu PF politburo.

This is an unprecedented move as it is the first time that the CDF has been appointed to the ruling party structures.

Mnangagwa announced while addressing party delegates at the 20th Zanu PF National People’s Conference in Gweru on Saturday.

“There is this comrade who was called Gwenzi during the armed struggle in ZPRA, he is now called General Phillip Valerio Sibanda. I with immediate effect appoint him an ex-officio member of the politburo,” Mnangagwa announced.

The Zanu PF politburo is the standing committee of the Central Committee and implements all its decisions, directives, rules and regulations.

Another politburo appointment was that of Rose Mpofu of Matabeleland South Province who became the new Secretary for People with Disabilities taking over from the late national hero Joshua Malinga.

General Sibanda’s shock appointment could raise some eyebrows as it may be viewed as unconstitutional.

The Zimbabwe Constitution of 2013 prohibits serving members of the security sector from being involved in partisan politics.

Section 208(3) of the Constitution states that “members of the security services must not be members of any political party or organisation.”

Section 208(4) of the Constitution further states that “members of the security services must not engage in any partisan political activity.”

The Zimbabwe Defence Act (Chapter 11.2) also prohibits members of the military from any involvement in party politics.

General Sibanda replaced Constantino Chiwenga as Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) on December 19, 2017. Sibanda was promoted from Lieutenant General to full General at that time. As Lieutenant General he had served as Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army.

Chiwenga had retired as ZDF Commander to take a civilian role as the country’s Vice President. Sibanda is a close ally of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and his appointment into the Zanu PF structures may be seen as a consolidation of Mnangagwa’s power.

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