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Promotion of Zimbabwean General a Setback for Security Sector Reform


Nyikayaramba has been elevated to the position of major general, and is moving from a base in eastern Manicaland province to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces headquarters in the capital

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s promotion this week of Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba, who once described Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a "national security threat" and called for Mr. Mugabe to be declared life president, has heightened tensions within Harare's wobbly government of national unity.

Nyikayaramba has been elevated to the position of major general, and is moving from a base in eastern Manicaland province to the Zimbabwe Defense Forces headquarters in the capital where he now becomes chief of staff quartermaster.

Army sources described Nyikayaramba as "unprofessional" and a ZANU-PF activist.

In June he was kicked out of the select committee responsible for writing the country’s new constitution after the Movement for Democratic Change formations protested that as a serving army officer he could not be involved in the process.

Critics have accused Nyikayaramba of meddling in politics. He once vowed to step down if Mr Tsvangirai took over the reigns of power from Mr. Mugabe. He has already declared that Mr. Mugabe will win the country’s next election.

Nyikayaramba is a familiar figure in Zimbabwean electoral politics. He retired in 2002 to become chief of elections during the disputed presidential election that year.

After the 2002 election Nyikayaramba returned to active military duty. While criticism of his promotion has grown louder, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the general deserved it because he is a hard worker.

Spokesman Douglas Mwonzora of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation said Nyikayaramba should be placed in detention for violating the Defense Act, not promoted.

But ZANU-PF Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo called the MDC's approach immature.

Political analyst Philip Pasirayi told VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that Nyikayaramba’s promotion is a setback for those demanding security sector reform.

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