Zimbabwe Profiles Local Anselem Sanyatwe Biography| 2017 Military Coup, August 1 Killings, US Sanctions, Diplomatic Corps, Appointment as Army Commander

Anselem Sanyatwe Biography| 2017 Military Coup, August 1 Killings, US Sanctions, Diplomatic Corps, Appointment as Army Commander

Anselem Sanyatwe Biography| 2017 Military Coup, August 1 Killings, US Sanctions, Diplomatic Corps, Appointment as Army Commander post thumbnail image

Anselem Sanyatwe Biography

Lieutenant General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe is a Zimbabwean military officer  and diplomat who currently serves as the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army. He has played significant roles in the country’s history, including controversial and notable events.

This biography provides a detailed overview of General Anselem Sanyatwe’s military career, the controversies surrounding his actions, and his personal life.

Early Life and Military Career:

Anselem Sanyatwe was born in Zimbabwe and embarked on a military career that saw him rise through the ranks to achieve the position of Lieutenant General in the Zimbabwe National Army. Throughout his military journey, he held various pivotal roles within the armed forces.

Role in the 2017 Military Coup:

Sanyatwe played a crucial role in the 2017 military coup that took place on November 15, 2017. He was the Commander in charge of the Presidential Guard and allegedly operationally spearheaded the betrayal and attack on the late former President Robert Mugabe. This coup marked a significant political turning point in Zimbabwe’s history.

Involvement in the August 1, 2018 Crackdown:

August 1, 2018, witnessed a post-election crackdown in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. Sanyatwe, then commanding the Presidential Guard, was instrumental in deploying soldiers to quell protests.

Sanyatwe was head of the National Reaction Force that used live bullets on protestors and killed 6 civilians and injured 35 more on August 1, 2018. Tragically, this operation resulted in the deaths of at least six innocent civilians and the injury of numerous others.

Testimony at the Commission of Inquiry:

Following the August 1 killings, a commission of inquiry was established, chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe. Sanyatwe testified at this inquiry in January 2019 and denied the involvement of his soldiers in the killings, leading to further controversy and debate.

General Sanyatwe made headlines during the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry hearings when he sensationally claimed that the soldier who was recorded firing his gun into the crowd was actually firing his weapon into the air as the gun was at a 45-degree angle.

Controversial Promotion to Major General:

In December 2018, then Brigadier General Sanyatwe was controversially promoted to the rank of Major General. This promotion raised questions and stirred controversy, particularly considering his prominent role in the August 1, 2018 Crackdown. His elevation to Major General came under scrutiny due to his association with the tragic events of that day.


Lieutenant General Anselem Sanyatwe Biography

General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Lieutenant General AnselemSanyatwe [Image Credit: Zimlive]

Involvement in Vice President Chiwenga’s Domestic Affairs and Divorce:

Sanyatwe’s relationship with Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is notable. It was reported that Chiwenga, a prominent figure in the government, sent Sanyatwe to give his estranged wife, Marry Mubaiwa Chiwenga, a divorce token known as “Gupuro.” This revelation came amid a messy divorce between Chiwenga and Marry.

Promotion To Lieutenant-General & Retirement

Retirement and Diplomatic Service:

In February 2019, Sanyatwe was retired from the army, following civil service reforms.  He was subsequently appointed as Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Tanzania, marking a shift from his previous military role.

In March, Major General Sanyatwe was subsequently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General together with 3 other Generals of the same rank from the Air Force of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Army.  The promotions came barely a month after Mnangagwa retired the four senior commanders and redeployed them to the diplomatic services.

Return to the Army and Appointment as Commander:

On October 20, 2023, President Emmerson Mnangagwa recalled Sanyatwe from his diplomatic post and appointed him as the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, indicating a significant resurgence in his military career.  Lieutenant General Sanyatwe’s appointment followed the retirement of  Lieutenant General David Sigauke.

U.S. Treasury Sanctions:

On March 11, 2020, Anselem Sanyatwe, along with Minister of State Security Owen Mudha Ncube, faced sanctions from the United States’ Department of the Treasury. These sanctions were imposed in response to their alleged involvement in human rights abuses, particularly directing attacks on demonstrators and political opponents in Zimbabwe.

Personal Life and White Wedding:

Anselem Sanyatwe’s personal life gained attention when he and his wife, Chido Machona Sanyatwe, renewed their wedding vows in a white wedding ceremony in August 2022. The event was attended by high-profile government officials, including Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

In summary, Lieutenant General Anselem Sanyatwe’s career has been marked by significant promotions, controversial events, and a surprising return to military leadership, alongside personal milestones and diplomatic service. His legacy remains a topic of debate and discussion in Zimbabwean politics and society.



  1. Mnangagwa names August 2018 crackdown commander as army chief, zimlive.com, October 20, 2023, by Prince Machaya.
  2. August 1 Killings & “45 Degree Angle” Commander RETIRED By Mnangagwa, Sent To Diplomatic Services, iharare.com, March 22, 2019..
  3. VP Chiwenga Sent August Killings Commander To Give Me Gupuro – Marry Mubaiwa, iharare.com, January 16, 2020.
  4. Vice President Chiwenga Attends Long Time Friend Anselem Sanyatwe And Wife Chido’s White Wedding, iharare.com, August 8, 2022.
  5. US Targets Ncube, Sanyatwe’s ASSETS As Pair Placed On US TREASURY SANCTIONS, iharare.com, March 11, 2020.
  6. Sanyatwe finally leaves Presidential Guard, The Standard, May 29, 2019, by Obey Manayiti

Leave a Reply

Related Post