Mugabe puts army in charge

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe into a de facto military junta - with virtually every aspect of life now under the control of the military. His latest move has been to hand over all revenue collection to Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief Constantine Chiwenga. This week Mu

gabe ordered Chiwenga to supervise revenue collection following reports of corruption at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) in which its boss Gershom Pasi has been implicated. Among state institutions now under the control of serving or former officers of the ZDF are the national food utility, the Grain Marketing Board, whose chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti was recruited from the army, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, headed by former High Court Judge and army officer George Chiweshe, NOCZIM, the Central Intelligence Organisation, the Prison Services, the National Railways and several government ministries – including Energy under Gen Mike Nyambuya and Youth under Brig Ambrose Mutinhiri. Former military intelligence officer Sobuza Gula-Ndebele is the Attorney General, a key post in the administration of justice. Authoritative sources said Chiwenga began overseeing ZIMRA operations on March 4, a day after Mugabe summoned Pasi for a meeting at which he is said to have accused the country’s chief tax collector of corruption and threatened to have him jailed if he did not mend his ways. “Mugabe accused Pasi of failing to stamp out corruption at ZIMRA because he too was corrupt and the economy was losing a lot of revenue because of an inept revenue collection body,” said a senior government official, who spoke on condition he was not named. “The President told Pasi that the army was going to watch over ZIMRA and supervise anti-smuggling operations. He was also warned that this was his last chance and that if he did not refrain from corrupt activities he would go to jail,” added the official. Mugabe then ordered Pasi to arrange a meeting with Chiwenga and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri. An army official privy to details of the meeting said: “Chiwenga told Pasi that the army was now supervising ZIMRA operations and warned him to comply with all directives from ZDF officers. Pasi was also told that he would now require approval from Chiwenga on any major decision or operation. Chihuri reminded Pasi to co-operate for his own good. imOnline was unable to get comment from Chiwenga, Chihuri or Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba. Pasi would only say: “I am not going to talk to you. I am clean and everyone, including the President knows that.” ZimOnline last November reported that Pasi was being investigated by the police over allegations that he used his position to import goods from South Africa for his own businesses and family worth over SAR4.5 million without paying duty. – Own correspondent/ZimOnline

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