Civilians must control army: US

morgan_clintonHARARE The United States Senate has called for civilian control of Zimbabwes security forces as one of far-reaching political reforms that should come before normalisation of relations between the two countries. (Pictured: Prime Minister Tsvangirai with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton)


In a move tantamount to calling for the removal of the current crop of security chiefs with roots in Zimbabwes 1970s war of independence, the US Senate said it would maintain an arms embargo against Harare until there was civilian control over security forces.

It accused Zimbabwes security forces of continuing to operate outside the rule of law by condoning land invasions, restricting media access and freedoms as well as harassing, arbitrarily arresting and detaining civil society activists.

Now, therefore, be it resolved that it is the sense of the Senate that the United States Government, in coordination with other democratic governments and international institutions desiring to help the people of Zimbabwe, should … maintain the existing ban on the transfer of defense items and services and the suspension of most non-humanitarian government-to-government assistance until there is demonstrable progress toward restoring the rule of law, civilian control over security forces, and respect for human rights in Zimbabwe, noted the US Senate resolution issued on June 10.

Salute Tsvangirai

Powerful heads of Zimbabwes security forces have refused to recognise a unity government formed by President Robert Mugabe and former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February.

The service chiefs have on several occasions since 2002 said they would never salute Tsvangirai, accusing the premier of being a puppet of the West and lacking liberation war credentials.

Led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, the heads of Zimbabwes airforce, police force and prison service were reportedly behind Zanu (PF)’s military-style presidential run-off election campaign in June 2008 which led resulted in the death of more than 200 members of Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off, handing President Robert Mugabe’s a victory in the subsequent one-man poll.

The 85-year-old leaders victory was not however recognised in the region and internationally, prompting the Southern African Development Community and the African Union to facilitate talks for a unity government.

Tsvangirai was appointed Zimbabwes prime minister following the launch of the unity government four months ago.

National security council

The service chiefs have also boycotted meetings of the newly formed National Security Council (NSC), a successor body to the Joint Operations Command that deals with national security matters.

The NSC is chaired by Mugabe and Tsvangirai is a member.

Tsvangirai has called for the reform of security forces to transform them into professional state apparatus.

Last week he dismissed the threat from the senior military and security leaders, saying he was certain they would back the country’s legal government.

“I don’t have to have personal love of generals or personal relationships. If anyone wants to have an attitude towards me, he is also undermining the inclusive government,” he said.

Other measures contained in the resolution by the US Senate included calls on other donor nations to continue providing humanitarian assistance to meet Zimbabwes urgent needs and to increase help for non-governmental organisations working in the education, health and water sectors, including payment of salaries of workers in these

sectors.

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