Military chefs rake in mining profits

According to a 31-page Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition report titled “The Military Factor in Zimbabwe’s Political and Electoral Affairs” released in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently, the military is increasingly playing a central role in directing production and controlling ownership of the means of production.

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The report is based on research conducted between September 2010 and March 2011 and it was compiled after interviews with various policy makers, serving and retired military officers, and officials in the inclusive government.

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It said 52 key institutions were being run by military personnel.

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“Through an elaborate patronage system established to reward partisan senior military officers and keep them loyal to Zanu PF and to Mugabe, the military has increasingly played a central role in directing production and controlling ownership of the means of production,” reads the report.

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Over the years senior military officers, in line with an elaborate patronage system, have been appointed to lead strategic state institutions, which include the Zimbabwe Prisons Service, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, National Railways of Zimbabwe and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the report said.

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“The increased militarisation of the state has led to the military taking control of an expanding range of decisions and actions from political strategy to the formulation and implementation of agrarian and economic policy.”

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The report said Mugabe had gone to great lengths to ensure the military’s continued loyalty “including distribution of land, housing and prominent political positions to top-ranking military officials and distribution and production of food”.

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It revealed that companies granted licences to mine diamonds in Marange under unclear circumstances, and in violation of Zimbabwe’s laws and regulations regarding tender procedures, were controlled by senior military officers.

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“There are genuine fears that diamond revenue from Marange, which is not properly accounted for, is being used by the military and those aligned to Zanu PF to build a war chest to fund electoral violence should Zimbabwe go to elections in 2011 as Zanu PF so much wants,” reads the report.

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Although the political leadership of the military was openly partisan, many rank and file soldiers are professional and non-partisan and aspiring to faithfully serve their country, said the report.

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The report recommended that the inclusive government recalls all soldiers presently deployed to organisations across the country and directs all military leaders to jointly issue a public statement denouncing the meddling in political and civilian affairs. – The Independent