Chiwenga’strategic best man

Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah


Many Zimbabweans would have expected Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Anselem Sanyatwe to be Vice-President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga’s best man at his much-hyped wedding to Miniyothabo Baloyi, a military intelligence colonel, on Saturday.

Sanyatwe, former commander of the Presidential Guard, was the go-between in Chiwenga’s relationship and marriage to his ex-wife Marry Mubaiwa.

Although he was removed from his army position by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2019 after playing a critical role in the 2017 coup which ousted the late former president Robert Mugabe, posting him as ambassador to Tanzania, Sanyatwe always visited Harare to see his family and Chiwenga.

His close allies vowed he would return to the army as a senior commander – and that he did recently.

Even when Chiwenga divorced Mubaiwa, he is the one who delivered “gupuro” (token of divorce) to her family.

However, to protect his utility military ally and critical asset – Sanyatwe, Chiwenga strategically chose another person as his best man – retired military commander Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, who took pride of place among his groomsmen.

Ndaitwah (71) is a Namibian diplomat and former military commander.

Some people confused him with former Zanu-PF political heavyweight Didymus Mutasa as sort of look alike.

Ndaitwah’s wife Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, currently Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, is likely to be the next Namibian President.

He was the chief of the Namibia Defence from 24 January 2011 to 31 December 2013.

Ndaitwah joined Swapo’s military wing, People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan) in 1974 and participated in the liberation struggle in various positions and capacities.

He was trained in Russia, the former Yugoslavia, India, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania. At Namibia’s independence in 1990, he became the first military assistant to the Chief of the Defence Force, Dimo Hamaambo.

He was Lieutenant-Colonel at the time and became deputy commander of the army in 1997.

Until 2006, Ndaitwah served as Namibia’s charge d’affaires in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He was promoted to Major-General in 2008 as chief of operations, Plans and Training, and then to Lieutenant-General in 2011 when he became Namibian Defence Force commander, succeeding Martin Shalli.

He served in that position until the end of 2013 when John Mutwa took over.

Ndaitwah is critical in terms of Chiwenga’s regional power matrix and manoeuvres.

He is married to Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Namibia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, also the current Swapo vice-president.

She is set to become the party’s first female presidential candidate in the November 2024 elections and eventually President.

She is a long-time MP. In 2017, Nandi-Ndaitwah was elected Swapo vice-president at the party’s 6th congress. She is the first woman to serve in that position and maybe the first female Namibian President.

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