The issue of security sector reform has been a constant bone of contention between Zanu (PF) and its coalition partners in the Government of National Unity.
The MDC-T and the MDC led by Welshman Ncube have on numerous occasions pointed out that the issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. But Zanu (PF) is singing a different tune and has steadfastly resisted all efforts to push for reforms.
The two MDCs are on record saying that the partisan conduct of the army, police force and Central Intelligence Organisation is clear evidence that security sector reform is a matter of urgency. The two parties have been insisting that there is need to rein in the security chiefs, whom they accuse of deviating from their mandate to serve the people – choosing instead to serve only the interests of Zanu (PF), which is closely linked to their own interests. Senior leaders in all forces are on record declaring their open support for Zanu (PF) and vowing to resist an MDC takeover of power.
Zanu (PF) continues to insist that the issue is not part of the Global Political Agreement that gave birth to the GNU in 2009. Recently, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said that the only outstanding issue in the GPA was the scrapping of sanctions and dismantling of pirate radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe from other countries.
He said calls for security sector reform were being driven by the “illegal regime change agenda”.
In an amplification of sentiments by State Security Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Mnangagwa said that calls for security sector reform were meant to weaken the country’s security services to make way for “recolonisation”.
Following Mnangagwa’s sentiments that the issue of security sector reform was not part of the GPA, the MDC-T issued a statement saying: “For the record, the GPA Article XIII (13.10) says: State organisations and institutions (of which the army, police, prisons and the Central Intelligence Organisation are part) do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties.”
The two MDC formations are adamant that in as much as Zanu (PF) might oppose the issue of security sector reform, opposition to the idea has become mere rhetoric with the advent of the new constitution.
MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora said: “Zanu (PF) has already given in to security sector reform. Chapter 11 of the draft constitution provides for security sector reform and says that the security services, namely the army, police and CIO, must not further the partisan interests of any political parties, neither must they campaign for any political party. Security sector reform refers to those reforms required to curb the partisan conduct by the service chiefs.”
The deputy spokesperson of the MDC led by Welshman Ncube, Kurauone Chihwayi, said security sector reform was a pre-requisite for credible elections. “The issue of security sector reform is actually within the roadmap to elections. Zanu (PF) has turned the army, police and CIO into their own militia and they want to say reforms are not a priority. They are trying to be stubborn but there is no way we can have credible elections without security sector reform.
“Zanu (PF) wants to use the security forces to intimidate people to vote for them in the coming elections – but they do not have a way out. They have to agree to our demands because we cannot go for elections without these reforms,” said Chihwayi.
Analysts have said that the security sector has been the bedrock of Zanu (PF’s) hold on power, and therefore the chances of the party conceding to the demand by its coalition partners, especially as the country braces for elections, are very slim indeed.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said calls for security sector reform would remain more theoretical than practical. “The current mood in Zanu (PF) and the security sector tells you that is an untouchable area. According to them, the sector is intact and if there are any reforms, they should be internal and not dictated from outside.
“The principal reason for the resistance is that security sector reform would undermine the powerbase of Zanu (PF),” said Masunungure.
Another political analyst, Charles Mangongera expressed skepticism on the possibility of Zanu (PF) agreeing to security sector reforms. “The only hope is that the new constitution is going to deal with some of the concerns around the conduct of the service chiefs. But as we head towards the election, I do not think that there is much that can be done to rein them (service chiefs) in.
“Historically the military is embedded in Zanu (PF) and the same applies to the CIO. You need to understand that the military was born out of the nationalist movement, which includes the current crop of political leaders. They are one and the same and although there has been a generational shift. One would expect some professionalism but it’s still the same,” said Mangongera.