PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is facing opposition from members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and Zanu PF over talks to secure a negotiated settlement to the countryâ€™s decade-long crisis.
Reliable sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that JOC members were against reported moves by Mugabe to cede executive powers to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an all-inclusive government.
JOC, a national security think-tank made up of army, police, prisons and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) chiefs, reportedly plotted a violent campaign to secure Mugabeâ€™s victory in the June 27 one-man presidential election run-off, a charge they deny.
The sources said JOC members were worried that Zanu was “conceding too much” to the MDC at the talks being mediated by South Africa President Thabo Mbeki.
“The service chiefs donâ€™t want Tsvangirai to have executive powers,” one of the sources said. “They wonder how they will relate to him after they issued statements before the elections that they would not salute him if he won.”
JOC members, among them, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri and Prisons Commissioner retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, said just before the March 29 elections they would not acknowledge Tsvangirai if he won.
Tsvangirai last week asked Mbeki to have JOC members appear before the talks negotiators and spell out their position on the negotiations and their likely outcome.
The source said the JOC members were also concerned about their security amid fears that they would be arrested for alleged human rights abuses during the violent run-off campaign.
“They are against the ceding of too much power to Tsvangirai,” another source said. “They are also afraid of being punished for human rights abuses.”
Apart from JOC membersâ€™ position, Mugabe was also facing stiff opposition in his party over the looming unity government with the MDC.
Party sources said Vice-President Joseph Msika and factions in Zanu PF were opposed to a deal with the MDC.
In a recent politburo meeting, Msika was reportedly livid that Zanu PF wanted Tsvangirai to be part of cabinet.
“Msika questioned why Tsvangirai, whom he considers to be a puppet of the West, should sit in cabinet. He is of the opinion that Tsvangirai should not be part of government,” a politburo source said.
Mugabe, the source said, told Msika that Zanu PF had failed to win a majority of seats in parliament and needed to accommodate Tsvangirai for effective governance.
“The president was frank that we now have a hung parliament and as such, Tsvangirai and his party should be in an inclusive government,â€ the source said.
Mugabe also reiterated the need to accommodate the MDC when the Zanu PF central committee and the national consultative assembly last met.
The 84-year-old veteran leader reportedly told the two party organs that Zanu PF needed to restructure after it lost the parliamentary election to the MDC.
The sources said leaders of factions in the party were also opposed to the talks, as they see the negotiations as a threat to the succession claims in Zanu PF.
The sources said the Solomon Mujuru-led faction felt alienated from the goings on in the party since the March 29 elections and were concerned that an agreement with MDC would see some of the campâ€™s senior members left out of the corridors of power.
Mujuruâ€™s faction was opposed to the perpetration of political violence to secure the presidency for Mugabe.
The other faction led by Rural Housing and Social Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, the sources said, was also concerned that a unity government would derail the ascendancy of the partyâ€™s legal secretary in Zanu PFâ€™s presidium.
By Constantine Chimakure