THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has announced that one of its top commanders, Brigadier-General Fidelis Satuku (Retired), has died.
He was 64.
Gen Satuku died yesterday afternoon at the Military Hospital in Mutare after having suffered a kidney related ailment for some time, the ZNA advised.
His death comes just under two weeks after the death of ZNA commander, Lieutenant General Edzai Chimonyo, who died after a long battle with cancer.
A veteran of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence in the 1970s, Brigadier-General Fidelis Satuku’s war name was Comrade George Mackenzie.
Not much is known about Brigadier-General Satuku. However, in a damning 2010 appraisal of then Zimbabwe Defense Forces General Constantino Guvheya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga contained in leaked Wikileaks cables, Fidelis Satuku, then a Major-General, told then United States ambassador to Harare Charles Ray that Chiwenga was not fit for the job.
“General Constantine (now Constantino) Chiwenga is a political general who works hard, but who has very little practical experience or expertise, “read the cables. Adding, “Given a choice between a military and political issue, Chiwenga will always choose the political, because he doesn’t know enough about the military to be comfortable discussing it.”
Satuku reportedly said this in the presense of Brigadier General Herbert Chingono.
Acknowledging the dire consequences if details of the secret meetings were be to leaked, Ray is recorded in the diplomatic cable as saying the two serving military officers took a “grave personal risk” in meeting him and should be “strictly protected”.
The two generals told Ray that Chiwenga had attended only one mid-level military training course, which he failed after it was discovered he had cheated. He then shot himself in the chest in an apparent suicide attempt, they said. The two further said the Zimbabwean army was too politicised and that the commander was a “political general.”
By contrast, Satuku and Chingono were highly trained military officers. Chingono was an artillery officer and was the last Zimbabwean army commander to attend the US National Defense University, while Satuku trained in Britain.
A year after the expose, Chiwenga told state media that disciplining Major General Fidelis Satuku and Brigadier General Herbet Chingono would be playing into the hands of the Americans. Chiwenga said the US officials could have been trying to destabilise the Zimbabweans army.
“The WikiLeaks statements were made by United States embassy officials, they might have had an imperialist agenda,” he told The Sunday Mail in 2011.
“To the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, WikiLeaks is of little significance. It would, therefore, be improper for an institution such as ours to make a decision based on statements that were relayed by United States embassy officials (who) could have been pursuing certain agendas.”
Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to declare Brigadier-General Fidelis Satuku (Retired) a national hero.