The head of Zimbabwe’s military, who led the de facto coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule last month, General Constantino Chiwenga, is set to retire, according to a government statement released on Monday.
The retirement is seen by many as a move to prepare for the general’s widely anticipated appointment as vice president.
“Commander General Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga has retired pending redeployment.’‘ read the statement released by Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet.
General Chiwenga has been replaced by Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda, who announced the official end of the operation that ousted Mugabe yesterday.
“Lieutenant General Phillip Valerio Sibanda has been promoted to the rank of a full General and assumes the post of Commander Defence Forces (CDF). Before this latest promotion and appointment, he was Commander, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA)’‘
The government also announced the retirement of police chief Augustine Chihuri, a deeply unpopular Mugabe loyalist who it said has been on leave since Dec. 15. Chihuri was accused by rights groups of presiding over vicious crackdowns on dissent and popular protest in the 18 months before Mugabe’s ouster.
The appointment of Chiwenga as Vice President would continue to reflect what analysts have described as the military consolidating its political power.
Since he was sworn in November 24, Mnangangwa has appointed the following military related appointments.
Major General Edzai Chimonyo, Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania.
General Sibusiso Moyo, appointed foreign minister.
Air Mashal Perence Shiri, appointed minister of agriculture and land affairs.
Major General Engelbert Rugeje, appointed political commissar in the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mnangagwa is championing reform as he restructures government in Zimbabwe to woo back investors and cause the lifting of ‘crippling sanctions’ by the West.