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Monday, 26 December 2005

Military Dictatorship in Zimbabwe

Trevor Ncube, one of Zimbabwean President Robert G. Mugabe's most vocal critics, says Zimbabwe is now effectively being ruled by the military and the intelligence agencies.

Ncube publishes South Africa's Mail & Guardian, and the last remaining independent newspapers in Zimbabwe, The Independent and the Zimbabwe Standard.

He says: "Mugabe has no intention to leave (the presidency), and in fulfillment of that he now relies more and more on the military.

"In other words, we have a military dictatorship in place."

In an interview with the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (Dec. 13, 2005), Trevor Ncube said it is clear that Mugabe is not running the country.

"Remember after Operation Murambatsvina. It was revealed that it was the Central Intelligence Organization that was behind it," he said.

Operation Murambatsvina, which translates into English as "Operation Drive Out Rubbish," made between 700,000 and 2.3 million Zimbabweans homeless when, beginning in May 2005, armed police, soldiers and Zanu-PF militias moved into opposition Movement for Democratic Change (M.D.C.) strongholds in towns and cities and razed thousands of homes and small-scale businesses to the ground. The operation destroyed over 500,000 informal and small-scale businesses and led to the arbitrary arrest of more than 30,000 innocent people. A number of women and children were also killed in the process.

Civic groups and the opposition M.D.C. argue that the government's main reason for Operation Murambatsvina was to punish the urban poor for voting for the opposition during the March 2005 parliamentary elections.

Ncube identifies Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, Immigration Director Elasto Mugwadi and Army Commander Constantine Chiwengwa as part of the core group of people who are now running the country.

In December 2005, Ncube and two other critics and opponents of the Mugabe regime, had their passports confiscated amid revelations that the regime was restricting travel rights of its critics and opponents to stop them from "badmouthing" the government abroad.

Between 15 and 64 human rights activists and critics of the regime have been placed on a list of people who are banned from traveling abroad and whose passports are to be seized "with immediate effect" if they try to either leave or enter the country.

"This operation, it's dictated by the 'securocrats,' who are the real people running this country. They include Tobaiwa Mudede and Elasto Mugwadi — but the people pulling the strings are military men.

"Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, 24 hours after the seizure of my passport, was adamant nothing like that could happen in Zimbabwe," Ncube says. "Attorney General Sobhuza Gula-Ndebele himself was also in the dark. He said it could not happen because there is no legislation in place to allow the state to seize people's passports."

Ncube points out that when civil structures fail to deliver, the military and intelligence agencies take over.

"That is why Army Commander Constantine Chiwengwa is now being touted as a possible presidential successor," Ncube says.

This article was first published in the World Press Review.

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