from African Security Review (2000)
Since independence, Africa’s military coups have institutionalised forays by the armed forces into the domestic economy. Coups allow military commanders to run both the body politic and economy, hence commercialising the interests of an already politicised officer corps. As a result, the legacy of interest in the domestic economy creates a precedent for further intervention in the body politic that acts as the platform for financial gain in Africa. Successive military regimes in Nigeria created a commercially inclined military ethos, leading to further intervention in the state administration.
To control the military and prevent coups, Africa’s leaders have often found it necessary to buy off the officer corps by bringing it into the patrimonial network.
In Zimbabwe, efforts to control the officer corps through patronage appear to have raised the commercial aspirations of the military élite.
After coming to power in 1980, President Robert Mugabe saw the danger in demobilising the bloated Zimbabwe National Defence Force too quickly, finding it expedient to utilise a different system whereby "... military and intelligence top brass [have been] closely integrated into ZANU-PF’s political structure and are privy to decision-making at the highest level: this is quite apart from their large salary packages and entrees into business through state owned companies."14 However, such a system of indirect control through incorporation is a dangerous balancing act with potentially extreme consequences for the existing regime. In all cases, the partial entrance of the military into commerce alters the military’s corporate identity. This is a significant factor in determining the extent of future commercial inclination....
Later the article discusses the DRC and Zvinavashe:
In exchange for providing security to the Kabila regime, a suitable business environment has been established for private uses. According to Ross Herbert, "Zimbabwean generals, politicians and the ruling ZANU-PF party have invested an estimated $47 million in timber, mining and retail deals."24
General Vitalis Zvinavashe, commander of the ZDF, has allegedly accrued significant financial gains from military deployment in the DRC. Of the nearly US $50 million USD Zimbabwe Defence Industries contract to supply Kabila’s army and the ZDF, a major private beneficiary was Zvinavashe’s trucking company, Zvinavashe Transport, subcontracted through a subsidiary, Swift Investments.25
Apparently, benefits also accrued to the general’s family with his brother, Augustine, having been awarded a Zim $10 million deal for exporting goods to the DRC.26 The military élite thus find themselves in beneficial commercial positions through the deployment of their subordinates, enabling participation in a diverse range of entrepreneurial ventures.
Even the Zimbabwean SPCA is investigating the alleged smuggling of parrots from the DRC by ZDF officers.27
Maybe if the UN can't stop them, we should ask PETA to intervene...