Brigadier’s promotion immoral: Ruhanya

The appointment is not illegal, but it is immoral Should we be worried that Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, who has denied accusations of being involved in everything from rhino poaching to murder, has been promoted by President Robert Mugabe to the position of Major General? According to political commentator, Pedzisai Ruhanya, the promotion is lawful but immoral.

Speaking to SW Radio’s Lance Guma, Ruhanya said the implications of Nyikayaramba’s promotion would be widespread in the run up to potential elections.

“Nyikayaramba has been at the centre of the militarization of our politics and electoral institutions in the previous three elections. Zanu (PF) is in the gear now for an electoral and political onslaught against the democratic actors, particularly the Movement for Democratic Change,” said Ruhanya.

Despite the existence of a coalition government, Mugabe made the appointment unilaterally. This decision is not illegal, but, according to Ruhanya, it is not right to appoint someone with such a dubious history.

“It is not correct to appoint a person of such moral standing, not only within the army, not only within his peers, but generally in the country. His partisan, violent and criminal behaviour dates back to 1989 when Captain Edwin Nleya disappeared in Hwange and Nyikayaramba was accused of being involved. He denied the charges.”

ESC violence

In the country’s last three elections, Nyikayaramba was allegedly involved in the unlawful practices that secured Zanu (PF)’s victory. Despite claiming in 2002 that he had resigned from the army, it was clear that he was still involved. He became the Chief Executive Officer of the then-Election Supervisory Commission and was responsible for the controversial victory of Mugabe in the 2002 election.

Ruhanya attributes the current problems with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, which took over from the ESC, to the influence of Nyikayaramba who filled many of the positions with soldiers and CIO men.

“I can give you a simple example – Major Utloile Silaigwana who is with the Army Education Corps. I challenge anyone who says that Major Silaigwana is not a serving soldier. He is in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, he was put by Nyikayaramba, these are the people who are rigging the elections, these are the people who were cooking figures in the 2008 electoral sham.”

MDC naivety

The MDC’s reaction to Nyikayaramba’s appointment was, in Ruhanya’s opinion, naïve and disappointing. He challenged the party to fulfil its role in the government by confronting Zanu (PF) for putting such an apologist in a position of power.

“Nyikayaramba should be known as a vigilante, so whatever he does must be seen in the context that he is not serving the interests of the Zimbabwe National Army.”

He further challenged Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the other MDC faction leaders not to tolerate the appointment.

“These people are sleeping at the expense of our people who have taken risks, who have defeated this regime. Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Welshman Ncube and the leadership of the civil society are not doing enough to make sure that the wishes of our people carry the day.”

What are the anticipated repercussions of Nyikayaramba’s deployment as chief of staff at the Army HQ? In Ruhanya’s opinion, he will continue to violate the Zimbabwe Defence Act and the country’s constitution by deploying soldiers to manipulate the will of the people when there are elections.

“Mugabe has appointed Nyikayaramba to organize the violence to ensure that he retains the presidency.”

Not all doom and gloom

It is not all doom and gloom, however, for the people of Zimbabwe who Ruhanya believes have seen enough violence and intimidation not to be cowed into voting for Zanu (PF).

“The majority of our people say that enough is enough. Violence on its own will not install legitimacy on Mugabe and will not install legitimacy on the regime. Its days are simply numbered.”

‘The majority of our people say that enough is enough’

With the MDC’s reaction to Nyikayaramba’s appointment disappointing many, will institutional bodies such as SADC fare any better? Following the 2008 run-off election, SADC stepped in to facilitate the signing of the Global Political Agreement. Three years on, Zanu (PF) does not have a single mayor in any of the country’s municipalities. This is just one area where the committee has contributed to change and reform in the country. Ruhanya believes that SADC will only be effective when the people of Zimbabwe stand firm in their commitment to democracy in the way they did in March 2008 when Mugabe was defeated for the first time since independence.

“Zanu (PF) lost its majority in parliament for the first time since Independence. Once we make that decision and Nyikayaramba and the other cabal come in and say you cannot run the country, then SADC has no option but to intervene,” he said.

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