Commander General of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)
Date of Birth: 25/08/1956
Place of Birth: Wedza
Career: Joined the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), 1973; Member of ZANLA general staff, 1974; Member of ZANLA high command and Deputy Commissar, 1978; Commander 1 Brigade, 1981; Commander 5 Brigade, 1984; Brigadier-General, 1987; Lieutenant-General and Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, 1994; Full-General and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, 2005 to date.
Commentary: Constantine Chiwenga kept a largely low profile, being overshadowed by his more vociferous wife Jocelyn, who had tiffs with white farmers and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) President Morgan Tsvangirai. It was only when President Robert Mugabe’s political career seemed under threat and Tsvangirai was showing signs that he could win the 2008 elections that he hit the headlines when he said he would not salute Tsvangirai echoing ideas of his predecessor Vitalis Zvinavashe just before the 2002 presidential elections. His sentiments were taken seriously as he is Commander of the Defence Forces and is in charge of the Joint Operations Command, though nominally this is under Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga originally supported Solomon Mujuru who comes from the same province and was commander of the army but seemed to then throw in his lot with Mnangagwa who was once again Mugabe’s favourite. Observers feel that Chiwenga has been given too much credit when the man behind the scene was really Mnangagwa. He could, therefore, be retired any time if he loses favour with Mnangagwa, who is now defence minister. This would go down well with Tsvangirai who feels that the military has no respect for him.
*Chiwenga was also known as Dominic Chinenge and only changed his name after the unity accord of 1987.