10 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Dabengwa Says the Junta Is Source of Instability in Zimbabwe

Photo: The Standard
Police beating up MDC-T supporters at party headquarters in Harare (file photo).

ZAPU President Dumiso Dabengwa warned on Friday that the armed forces chiefs remain a potential source of instability, which could still throw Zimbabwe and the region into chaos after the elections.

Dabengwa said it is a very bad precedent for any country to allow its members of the security forces to interfere or have a say in whatever is happening on the political scene.

The former ZIPRA intelligence supremo told SW Radio Africa that Robert Mugabe's silence in the wake of a verbal onslaught against Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai by his generals, seemed to condone their behaviour.

Asked for his opinion following the recent spate of toxic grumblings by the service chiefs, Dabengwa was unequivocal when he stated: 'It's either he (Mugabe) condones what they're saying or he's afraid of them.'

Many commentators say it is extremely unlikely Mugabe is afraid of the men he put into power to maintain his hold over the country, particularly as he continues to richly reward them by allowing them to plunder the Marange diamond fields.

In the last two weeks, the service chiefs waged a verbal war against the MDC leader with army commander General Constantine Chiwenga labelling him a psychiatric patient in need of a competent psychiatrist.

Not to be outdone, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri described the Premier as a 'malcontent' who did not deserve any attention from him as the chief of police.

Worryingly, the heads of the country's army, police, airforce and CIO have warned in the past that they will not allow a candidate without liberation war credentials to be president.

This was in apparent reference to Tsvangirai who did not participate in the liberation war of the 1970's. Analysts say that years of interfering in political issues have rendered the armed forces a source of chronic political trouble and a liability to any democratic civilian rule.

Dabengwa said reforming a security sector notorious for its human rights abuses and distrust of leaders other than Mugabe, will require significant political will.

'The issue of realignment (security sector reform) to me is not important... it is a process that takes time and cannot be achieved overnight. But what is important is to ensure that everyone in the country abides by the highest law of the country, which is the new constitution.

'The constitution spells it out that members of the security forces, including civil servants, should be apolitical. So once that clause in the constitution comes into effect, the generals cannot come out and start commenting on the political issues,' Dabengwa said.

The liberation war icon explained that the loose-tongued generals have felt free to say anything they want, because they know no one will reprimand them for doing it.

'If they know they would be reprimanded they will never repeat what they've been saying all along. They have a commander-in-chief who happens to be the President of the country and when your juniors do something wrong... it is your duty to reprimand them.

Dabengwa continued: 'And if you don't the indications that you're giving to the rest of the other people is that you actually condone what they are doing."

Military analysts however believe that reforming the armed forces is crucial to dealing with country's deep-rooted political problems. Since 1980, the ZANU PF regime has used the military for political ends.

Others believe this has not only undermined it as a professional outfit, but has also made the military a source of political instability.

Despite a new constitution that requires an apolitical military it is unlikely that anything will change, without anyone to enforce that ruling.

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