Militarization of Civic Affairs in Zimbabwe


3-11-05, 8:30 am

Appointment of Army Major to Vet Scribes in Zim Elections Signals Militarization of Civic Affairs

In another move designed to intimidate journalists wanting to cover Zimbabwe's up-coming Parliamentary election, President Robert Mugabe has appointed a serving Zimbabwe army major to vet foreign journalists wishing to be accredited.

ZimOnline, an online new service run by journalists banned by Robert Mugabe's government, reported that Major Anyway Mutambudzi, who is operating from the first floor of President Robert Mugabe’s Munhumutapa Building offices, is being assisted by three other soldiers whose names could not be immediately established.

The major himself apparently confirmed to ZimOnline that he was handling accreditation of foreign journalists team and said his team would issue a statement regarding the registration of foreign correspondents for the poll.

But when he was asked about his new assignment, whether he was on leave from the army or whether he had joined the Ministry of Information and Publicity – which usually does the accreditation, he became angry and said: 'Are you a foreign journalist, why should I talk to you?'

Foreign journalists were last month told to direct applications for accreditation to erstwhile Mugabe spokesman George Charamba who has taken over control of the media since the firing of Professor Jonathan Moyo from the Information Ministry.

But Mutambudzi and his military team have apparently been handling the actual accreditation while also working with the ruling ZANU PF's publicity office. And, typically of military operations in civic affairs, reports are already circulating that as of now only Charamba, and the soldiers, are privy to the requirements for foreign journalists to be accredited, and on what grounds such accreditation might be refused.

Mutambudzi is one of several recent military appointments taking charge of government institutions directly or indirectly involved in the running of elections in the country.

Chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) established earlier this year to take overall charge of all elections, George Chiweshe, is a former senior army officer.

Before his appointment to the ZEC, he headed the Delimitation Commission that redrew the country’s voting constituencies, hacking off three constituencies from opposition strongholds and tagging them to ruling party stronghold constituencies.

Chiweshe was appointed a High Court judge following a purge of the bench. The Attorney-General, Sobuza Gula Ndebele, who is responsible administration of cases going through the courts, is also a former army intelligence officer.

A former army brigadier Kennedy Zimondi, has been appointed the chief elections officer of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, which monitors the ZEC to ensure the body conducts elections in a free and fair manner.

The chief executive officer of the state’s Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which has been accused of denying opposition party supporters food, as punishment for supporting the opposition party, is a former army colonel –  Samuel Muvhuti.

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