Reform the military now: Biti tells Mugabe

Reform the military now: Biti tells Mugabe

ZIMBABWE – President Robert Mugabe’s admission that the country’s securocrats are deeply involved in the ruling Zanu PF party’s leadership struggles is enough reason for security sector reform, the Tendai Biti-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has said. 

PDP secretary for defence Tawanda Bvumo said his party was worried that if the service chiefs were this interested in party political leadership wrangles, “how much more would they be involved in State power dynamics?”

“So bad is the situation with regard to security sector involvement in civilian affairs such that Robert Mugabe himself complained of the defence forces’ participation in the party’s factional fights,” the PDP said in the statement.

Mugabe, in his address to the Zanu PF annual conference in Victoria Falls last week, revealed to delegates that the country’s military, intelligence and police were divided along factional lines.

The veteran Zanu PF leader, however, seemed unsure of what to do next.

“If, therefore, the securocrats are so deeply involved in the Zanu PF wars, one wonders how involved they will be when the very national leadership question is at stake,” the PDP said.

“We have always argued that in order for Zimbabwe to move forward, politics and government institutions must be demilitarised and the sights of hundreds of soldiers carrying guns and manning various outposts to the venue is far from encouraging.”

PDP alleged Mugabe at the conference demeaned genuine war veterans who sacrificed a lot for the liberation of the country and many, who have since quit active politics due to the party’s “deviation from the liberation ethos”.

“What is further shocking was the heavy military presence at the venue of a private function. The presence of the top military brass as well as a large military deployment laid bare the thin arguments of the ruling party propaganda machinery, which has dismissed the growing calls for security sector reforms,” the statement read.

“The heavy military involvement in politics at party level and national level spells doom for the country and give credence to our call for a National Transitional Authority (NTA)to avert a disaster that is waiting to happen when President Mugabe exits power via natural means.”

Mugabe has, in the past, scoffed at any suggestion that the military needed to be tweaked given its involvement in civilian matters. The Zanu PF leader had, instead, argued it was an agenda being pushed by Western governments angry with his indigenisation policies to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

PDP said it would continue with its calls for demilitarisation of government institutions enunciated in its policy proposals titled Agenda for Restoration and Rehabilitation of Electoral Sustainability, “especially the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission which is central to the conduct of a free and fair election”.

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