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Tsvangirai insists on security reforms

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is persisting with his push for a full Sadc summit preceded by a Sadc troika on politics, defence and security cooperation meeting to ensure security sector reforms and the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) before make-or-break elections expected later this year.

Report by Hazel Ndebele

Tsvangirai last week went on continental diplomatic offensive, meeting key leaders from the four regional blocs that make up the Africa Union namely Sadc, Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of Central African States (Eccas), to impress on them the need for security sector realignment among other reforms.

Although Tsvangirai refused to be drawn into a war of words with security service chiefs, who lately have publicly attacked his person, his spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said the premier would not drop his demands for reforms in the security sector, adding that recent statements by security forces bosses were an indication that there was an urgent need for such reforms.

Zanu PF insists the security sector is a no-go area and calls for its realignment are a regime change agenda, despite this being one of the GPA requirements.

The commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga last week described Tsvangirai as a sellout and “psychiatric patient who seems to be suffering from hallucinations”.

He said the defence forces will not respect or entertain people who do not value the ideals of the liberation struggle.

Chiwenga said this following revelations by this paper that the MDC-T defence and security secretary Giles Mutsekwa — a retired major — held talks with hardliners in the military including Chiwenga himself, Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) chief of staff (general staff) Major-General Martin Chedondo and chief of staff and quartermaster, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba.

Mutsekwa also said he held talks with Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, but the police boss and Chiwenga have since denied meeting him.

Chihuri described Tsvangirai and MDC officials as “confused malcontents”.

During his diplomatic offensive Tsvangirai met South African President Jacob Zuma who is also the Sadc appointed facilitator in Zimbabwe, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, the chairperson of the Sadc troika as well as Angolan Foreign Minister Georges Chicoti and Botswana president Ian Khama.

He also went to Gabon where he met President Ali Bongo Ondimba. Gabon is the current leader of Eccas. Tsvangirai further met Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan, an influential figure in Ecowas.

He wound up his tour by meeting the Prime Minister of Cote d’ Ivoire, Kablan Duncan. Cote d ‘Ivoire is the current chair of Ecowas. The premier wants both Sadc and the AU to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to implement key reforms to create conditions for free and fair elections.

Tamborinyoka said Tsvangirai impressed on the leaders the need for the GPA to be fully implemented before polls while there was special emphasis on security sector reforms and a clean voters’ roll.

“He appraised Sadc leaders and key members of the African Union about the situation in Zimbabwe because they are the guarantors of the GPA and therefore the inclusive government,” said Tamborinyoka.

“The Prime Minister told them about the lack of political will to implement reforms and asked for their intervention. He asked that the Sadc troika and the Sadc summit convene to assess the situation in Zimbabwe and set guidelines for the polls.”

Tamborinyoka added: “He spoke to them about the lack of political will as far as security sector and media reforms are concerned and also highlighted the manipulation of the voters’ roll.”

The security sector is credited with rescuing President Robert Mugabe in the June 2008 presidential poll run-off through a vicious and bloody campaign, leading to a disputed poll outcome and the formation of the unity government.

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