VICE-president Constantino Chiwenga is fast-gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense politician after summarily dismissing 15 000 striking nurses, but analysts have warned his leadership style is not consistent with the so-called new era.
Chiwenga took ownership of the decision to fire the nurses on the eve of the country’s independence Day last week claiming the strike was political.
However, the move infuriated labour unions and political parties, who described it as a gross violation of the nurses’ labour rights and the country’s constitution.
Giles Mutsekwa, the MDC-T secretary for security, said the controversial decision showed that Chiwenga was struggling to fit into a civilian government after serving years as a soldier.
“Unfortunately, for Chiwenga, we all went through such kind of experience when we came from the military,” the former Home Affairs deputy minister said.
“Coming from the military, one needs to acclimatise to the civilian world.
“You must remember that here is a man who was involved in a bush war during the colonial era and later joined the military as a regular soldier.
“He hasn’t taken time to experience what it is to be a civilian. We all went through that, but that situation is detrimental to the country.
“He needs to be re-oriented, he needs that. Unfortunately, he came out of the barracks and went straight to be the VP. He should have taken time in the terraces and see how things are done.”
Chiwenga was the Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander when the army toppled former president Robert Mugabe in November last year.
He was sworn as VP together with Kembo Mohadi the following month. Chiwenga is also the Defence minister.
Mutsekwa said the former army general had made several blunders in the few months he had been in government.
“He is making terrible decisions which are not good at all for the well-being of the country,” Mutsekwa said.
“If I were in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s shoes, I would have summoned Chiwenga and told him that he is a national leader now and not a military commander and he needs to cool down.”
Dewa Mavhinga, a political analyst, advised Chiwenga to get civilian advisors that will school him on human rights and the rule of law.
“General Chiwenga’s move directly from the army to government represents militarisation of Zimbabwe’s civilian affairs and recent ill-advised and bungled-up decisions like firing striking nurses without due process of law point to an unfortunate military approach to national affairs,” Mavhinga said.
“Nurses have the constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate to demand a living wage and their genuine concerns cannot be dismissed as politically motivated because to do that would be to dabble in partisan politics in the face of a collapsing health sector.”
Harare-based political activist Patson Dzamara said Chiwenga had exhibited traits of being a dictator.
“A close look at Chiwenga will reveal that in under four months he has fired senior police officers, he grabbed state land for his woman, he is giving business to his wife and now he has fired striking nurses,” he said.
“These are not only signs of dictatorial tendencies, but apt manifestation of that.
“When he left the barracks, Chiwenga, a man who has been a soldier almost half of his life, needed rehabilitation and re-orientation into society as an ordinary citizen.
“His involvement at the highest level of this country’s leadership is unfortunate and costly.”
In January, Chiwenga was linked to the mass sacking of senior police and intelligence officers.
However, the move was reversed a few days later without any explanation.
– The Standard