HomePolitics‘MDC-T to rationalise armed forces’

‘MDC-T to rationalise armed forces’

THE MDC-T would cut down the number of defence forces and establish a defence service commission (DSC) in a bid to ensure security sector reforms if it comes to power.

Brian Chitemba/Elias Mambo

In its policy document seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, which will be launched today in Harare by party leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, security sector reforms will top the agenda if the party wrests power in elections later this year.

The MDC-T, however, has for long been clamouring for security sector reforms, but faced stiff resistance from Zanu PF which enjoys the support of the army, police and intelligence services.

Tsvangirai and army generals have also been engaged in a bitter war of words with the securocrats vowing they will never allow the former trade unionist to rule, while the premier equated such sentiments to a military coup.

But the MDC-T policy document says it will ensure army commanders will be made professional by an Act of parliament which will provide for the establishment of a permanent force, that will bar security personnel from engaging in partisan politics.

“The MDC government will plan an overall reduction in staff to levels more appropriate for a country with no significant threats.

Rationalisation will be handled with great sensitivity. The experience from the demobilisation exercise undertaken in the early 1980s is that if former fighters are not assisted in adapting to civilian life, they may be a burden on society, may engage in crime and banditry and may also be used by dictators for personal political comebacks after losing a popular vote,” reads part of the policy blueprint.

The party says rationalisation and right-sizing will be implemented to ensure the defence forces show a true representation of the Zimbabwean population and fair labour practices.

The MDC-T noted that under the Zanu PF regime, the security services have been used to perpetuate Mugabe’s 33-year rule through violence and intimidation.

A number of army commanders, including Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, Major-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, Major-General Trust Mugoba and Major-General Martin Chedondo, have made political statements which the MDC-T said sought to undermine free and fair elections.

The country is highly militarised as the defence forces has been drawn into all spheres of life, the MDC-T said, hence the DSC will depoliticise the army and state institutions so that they serve the interests of the nation.

“The MDC recognises that civil-military relations will only be stable if the requisite is accompanied by the fulfilment of certain responsibilities towards the defence forces and its members. The government will not misuse the Zimbabwe Defence Forces for partisan or repressive purposes,” it reads. “The government will take account of the professional views of senior officers in the process of policy formulation and decision-making on defence.”

The party also says its new government will come up with legislation which emphasises the themes of an ethical code of conduct for intelligence services.


  Security sector re-alignment urgent: Mutsekwa

THE MDC-T defence and security secretary Giles Mutsekwa, who recently told the Zimbabwe Independent his party was holding sensitive high-level talks with the military, says the security services have been manipulated for partisan political ends, hence an urgent need for security sector re-alignment.

Although he refused to divulge information his talks with the military commanders during an interview this week with SW Radio Africa, Mutsekwa, instead referring questions to his party’s spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora, said security sector reforms were imperative for Zimbabwe’s political transition to democracy.

“What we are saying is that for 33 years since Zimbabwe became independent, the security sector in Zimbabwe has been very unfortunate in that it has had a civilian government that has chosen to abuse our security services,” he said.

“Therefore, it is only paramount that because there is now a new political dispensation and that there is now democracy emerging in Zimbabwe, our security sector, which has been misemployed, and being misemployed, is completely different from them being unprofessional.

They might have received professional training, but 33 years of misemployment obviously takes away some of that professional training that you had. So yes, there is an urgent necessity for re-alignment — straightening their actions and thinking so that it dovetails with the new political dispensation that pertains the country.”

Although some service chiefs, among them the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and top army commanders including Major-Generals Douglas Nyikayaramba, Trust Mugoba and Martin Chedondo have declared their allegiances to Zanu PF and publicly shown contempt for MDC-T leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, Mutsekwa said the generals had no power to stop the security sector re-alignment.

He said the security sector re-alignment was agreed to in the Global Political Agreement. He also noted his party would continue to engage Sadc and the African Union, who are the GPA guarantors, until the security sector is reformed.

Mutsekwa, however, said his party was willing to inherit the security sector “lock, stock and barrel”, but with the condition that there must be a re-alignment.

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