Politics, privileges, and loyalty in the Zimbabwe national army
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In postcolonial Africa, the military has become an actor in politics, often in ways that can be described as unprofessional. This paper focuses on the manner in which the Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA) has become heavily politicized since independence, directly supporting the regime of President Robert Mugabe while denigrating the opposition political party. The military metamorphosed, to all intents, into an extension of President Mugabe’s political party, the ZANU-PF. I argue that even though the military is expected to subordinate itself to a civilian government, the ZNA is highly unprofessional, in- and outside the army barracks. The ways in which politics came to be mediated by army generals, as “war veterans” serving in the military, directly influenced not only how soldiers who joined the army in postindependence Zimbabwe were promoted and demoted, but how they lived their lives as soldiers in the army barracks. This article is based on fifty-eight life histories of army deserters living in exile in South Africa.