Anselem Sanyatwe

Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe is a Zimbabwean former military commander and Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Tanzania.

As Brigadier Anselem Sanyatwe, commander of the Presidential Guard, Sanyatwe was the tactical commander of the force deployed on 1 August 2018, to deal with demonstrations following the July elections. Six people were killed. On 18 February 2019, as a Lieutenant General (rtd), Sanyatwe became Zimbabwe's Ambassador to Tanzania.

In July 2019, Sanyatwe and his wife Chido Sanyatwe were placed on a sanctions list by the United States of America for his alleged involvement in the August 1 Killings. In a statement the office of the spokesperson of the Secretary of State, wrote that it had publicly designated Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe “due to his involvement in gross violation of human rights.”

"The Department has credible information that Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe was involved in the violent crackdown against unarmed Zimbabweans during post-election protests on August 1, 2018 that resulted in six civilian deaths,"[1]


Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe, is from the Nyanga area.

Presidential Guard Commanding Officer and August 1 Killings

Brig Genl Sanyatwe

As Commanding officer of the Presidential Guard, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe was the tactical commander when armed soldiers were deployed in Harare 1 August 2018, to suppress a protest against the delay in announcing the July election results. Six people were shot and killed.


Mothlane Commission

A soldier fires shots towards demonstrators, on August 1 2018, in Harare, as protests erupted over alleged fraud in the country's election. Image Credit: AFP PHOTO - Zinyange AUNTONY

On 12 November 2018, Sanyatwe told the Mothlane Commission of Inquiry that soldiers under his command were not responsible for the deaths from the August 1 Killings as they had not shot at the crowds. Said Sanyatwe:

Responding to a commissioner who had asked if any dead bodies were recovered from the area where the kneeling soldier was firing, he said:

No, sir. if you watch that video closely, that soldier who took a kneeling position whilst firing; if you check properly [with] military experts, that rifle was being fired at an angle of 45 degrees in the air, and not direct to the [people][3]

Questioned on why the soldier was kneeling, Sanyatwe said the man “took that position because he was avoiding missiles that were being thrown at him.”[4]

He also said:

“To be honest with you the honorable commission, if any gunshot wounds were sustained by the victims, it was not from my men,”[5]


In December 2018, Sanyatwe was promoted to the rank of Major General.[6]

Brigadier-General Anselem Nhamo Sanyatwe promoted to the rank of Major-General


On 18 February 2019, President Mnangagwa moved four top soldiers, retired them, and shuffled them to the foreign service. This was done while Chiwengwa was in India for medical treatment. [7]

Zimbabwe Ambassador to Tanzania

On 29 May 2019, now Lt General Sanyatwe, actually left the ZNA, leaving the presidential Guard to its new commander, Brigadier-General Fidelis Mhonda. Sanyatwe departed to become Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Tanzania.


Zanu-PF Factionalism and being Anti-Joice Mujuru in 2015

In October 2015 Sanyatwe made headlines when he spoke against Joice Mujuru when Zanu-PF's factionalism fights intensified:

“Zvechisoja zvapera! Chii chirikutora nzvimbo munyika? Handidi kuti munzwe nemakuhwa kana kuverenga mumapepa. Mhuka inonzi Zanu PF ichatonga nyika ino iyi narinhi narinhi kusvika madhongi amera nyanga. Nokudaro pamberi neZanu PF, pamberi naCde Robert Mugabe!, Pasi naJoice Mujuru!

(Professionalism is over and many of you are wondering what is happening in the country. I do not want you to hear through the grapevine or read in the newspapers but the animal called Zanu PF shall rule until donkeys have horns. That is why I am saying forward with Zanu PF! Forward with President Robert Mugabe! Down with Joice Mujuru!),”


Commander of Zimbabwe’s Presidential Guard, Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe, denied ever making such inflammatory statements against the former VP. Brig-Gen Sanyatwe’s response comes in the wake of the People First’s statement at the weekend warning the military against making inflammatory statements that it claimed could spark civil unrest. He said:

“Nothing of that sort was ever said. When, as military leaders, we address our officers, we operate within the strict confines of military rulebooks. It is not like we are at a rally. [10]

Personal life

In 2000, he married Chido Sanyatwe, now Zanu PF MP for Nyanga North - elected in the 30 July 2018 elections.

UK Sanctions List

On 2 February 2021 the UK government imposed sanction on Anselem Sanyatwe for what has been termed gross human rights violations. The Harare regime’s state security minister, intelligence director, police chief and leader of the Presidential Guard were sanctioned for their alleged role in the deaths of 23 Zimbabwean protesters killed for expressing the right to free speech and demonstration.

A travel ban and asset freeze was levied on the four men, meaning they could no longer travel freely to the UK nor channel money through Britain’s banks or economy. They were held responsible by the UK Government for the worst human rights violations against the people of Zimbabwe since President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November 2017.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said: “These sanctions send a clear message that we will hold to account those responsible for the most egregious human rights violations, including the deaths of innocent Zimbabweans.”

Stressing that the sanctions were targeted at senior individuals in the Government, and not ordinary Zimbabweans, he added: “We will continue to press for the necessary political and economic reforms that will benefit all Zimbabweans.”

The four men sanctioned were Owen Ncube, Zimbabwe’s minister for state security; Isaac Moyo, director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation; Godwin Matanga, commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police; and Anselem Sanyatwe, commander of the Presidential Guard and Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force.

They were the first individuals from Zimbabwe to be designated under the UK’s autonomous Zimbabwe sanctions regime following Britain’s departure from the EU.[11]


  1. U.S Imposes Targeted Sanctions on Former Commander of Zimbabwe’s Army 'Linked' to August Killings, VOA, Published: 2 Aug 2018, Retrieved: 3 Aug 2019
  3. August 1 Kneeling Soldier Only Shot In The Air, Army Brigadier Tells Commission, Pindula News, Published:12 November 2018, Retrieved: 3 August 2019
  4. Zimbabwean generals deny troops shot and killed 6 protestersAssociated Press, Published: 13 Nov 2018, Retrieved: 3 Aug 2019
  5. Zim army denies killing civilians during post-election protests, Zimbabwe Situation, Published: 13 Nov 2018, Retrieved: 3 Aug 2019
  6. ED promotes Aug 1 shootings commander, NewsDay, Published:18 Dec 2018, Retrieved: 3 Aug 2019
  7. Four Zimbabwe generals retired in Mnangagwa's first purge of military, eNCA, Published: 18 Feb 2019, Retrieved: 3 Aug 2019
  8. Obey Manayiti, Sanyatwe finally leaves Presidential Guard, NewsDay, Published:29 May 2018, Retrievd: 3 Aug 2019
  9. Sanyatwe under fire over Mujuru, Zimbabwe Independent, Published: 16 Oct 2016, Retrieved: 10 July 2019
  10. ZNA non-partisan, professional: Sanyatwe, The Herald, Published: October 13, 2015, Retrieved: July 13, 2021
  11. Lucy Fisher, [1], The Telegraph, Published: 1 February, 2021, Accessed: 1 February, 2021