Tensions at Defence House have been fuelled by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) investigation of army commanders and senior ministry employees allegedly involved in charging inflated prices for goods and services supplied to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF).
Army and civilian sources said that there was a conflict over who should handle financial matters at the ministry.
“It’s about the control of the purse. Soldiers are not paid well and commanders survive on privileges and their proximity to power. Ministry workers are only close to money, but not power,” said one source.
“The ZACC easily gets information from both sides snitching on each other.”
The source said the investigation had been complicated by the fact that deals implicating ministry directors were done in their personal capacities as a sanctions busting measure.
Evidence in a dossier submitted to the commission shows that in efforts to get around Western sanctions, critical equipment such as spares for armoured vehicles and aircraft was procured at inflated prices. Some orders were paid for but not delivered.
In December, army chief of staff Maj Gen Hlanganani Dube one of the ZDF’s top five commanders was implicated in the theft of 30t of beef from a training depot.
Dube’s driver was arrested by counterintelligence operatives and he pointed the finger at his boss, who was put on forced leave pending completion of an investigation.
The commander of 1 Commando Regiment in Harare, Lt Col Enock Chivhima, was arrested last May and charged with stealing beef rations meant for his troops.
He and eight other soldiers were also arrested on suspicion of stealing donations for victims of Cyclone Idai. Their court martial is under way.
Sources said because the military had been the power behind the throne since the November 2017 coup which removed Robert Mugabe, it was using the ZACC to get civilians at Defence House arrested.
Defence ministry procurement director Peter Muchakadzi, 55, and accountant Kunofiwa Madondo, 58, were arrested by the ZACC on Monday. They appeared before Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo on Thursday accused of producing fake invoices totalling $306 135.
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