Army biggest obstacle to reforms: PM
KWEKWE – The armed forces have emerged as the biggest obstacle to democratic
reforms in Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Sunday, as he
made fresh calls for restructuring of the security forces.
Tsvangirai, who said he would not pull out of his coalition government with
President Robert Mugabe, said the administration has failed to live up to
its promise to restore the rule of law, human rights and democracy.
The former opposition leader, who agreed to join Mugabe in a government of
national unity following inconclusive elections in 2008, said the coalition
was tottering towards dysfunction chiefly because one half of the
administration was persecuting the other.
He was referring to an ongoing crackdown on his MDC party by the security
forces working together with hardliners from Mugabe’s ZANU (PF) party.
Tsvangirai, who was addressing supporters here, said: “Talk that we are
making progress is misleading, we are not going anywhere until there are
reforms within the security sector.
“When we signed the Global Political Agreement (the power sharing agreement
that gave birth to the unity government) the security sector was not an
issue, but now it is because ZANU (PF) is abusing these national
institutions to making them spokespersons of the party. If we had known that
this was going to be the case, we would not have entered into that
Tsvangirai also called for elections next year to choose a new government to
replace the troubled coalition. But he said the country must adopt a new
constitution, reform the security sector and agree an elections charter
before the polls can take place.
“These are the three key issues in the election roadmap. Once these have
been guaranteed we will then sit down after the constitution and decide when
to hold elections, but that will not be this year. We want elections and we
don’t want them in 2013, we want them next year after these guarantees,” he
Zimbabwe’s powerful military generals are seen as the true backbone of
Mugabe’s 31-year rule, while analysts say the security chiefs wield a de
facto veto over the country’s transition process.
The generals, with the support of some ZANU (PF) elements, still believe
that Tsvangirai – most likely to win a free and fair presidential ballot —
should not be permitted to lead the country regardless of the outcome of
elections and have in thinly veiled statements threatened to topple him in a
Analysts believe the generals’ strong opposition to change is driven by fear
that any new government, especially one led by Tsvangirai, could prosecute
them for gross human rights abuses committed in recent repression campaigns,
especially those associated with violence-marred elections in 2008 as well
as a 1980s anti-insurgents campaign in the provinces of Matabeleland and
At least 20 000 innocent civilians form the Ndebele ethnic minority were
reportedly killed in the two provinces during the bloody counter-insurgency
drive by the army. — ZimOnline
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