Generals at it again!

chiwenga_generalHARARE Zimbabwes National Security Council (NSC) failed to meet last month after security commanders boycotted the council, in yet another sign of deepening crisis in the power-sharing government. (Pictured: General Chiwenga)

Sources told The Zimbabwean on Sunday that the security commanders refused to attend the council meeting apparently because they are not happy that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has not called on Western governments to lift visa and financial sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his top allies, including the commanders.

“I can confirm the National Security Council did not meet at the end of August,” Tsvangirais spokesman James Maridadi said last week. He would not disclose the reasons why the council, that is required under the law to meet at least once every month to review the national security situation, failed to hold its meeting.

But our sources said the move by the security chiefs not to attend the council meeting was part of a concerted effort by Mugabe and his allies to pressure Tsvangirai to call for the removal of the sanctions.

The police and military commanders action also came as Mugabes Zanu (PF) party intensified pressure on Tsvangirais MDC party by accusing the former opposition movement of not fulfilling promises made under the Global Political Agreement because it was refusing to call for lifting of sanctions.

The MDC says it cannot order removal of the punitive measures against Zanu (PF) leaders because it has no power to decide foreign policy for the Western governments that imposed the visa and financial bans.

The United States and its European Union allies have also made it clear that they will consider lifting the sanctions only once they are convinced Zimbabwe is on an irreversible path to democracy.

The NSC comprises Mugabe as chairperson, his deputy Joice Mujuru, Tsvangirai and his deputies Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the two Home Affairs ministers Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi.

The service chiefs, who exclusively ran Zimbabwes security policy as the Joint Operations Command (JOC) before formation of the NSC, are ex-officio members of the security council.

Insiders say the old JOC has continued hold meetings with Mugabe to decide on the countrys security in violation of the law that requires that such decision be made by the NSC.

While the council is supposed to meet at least once every month, it has held only one meeting, on July 30, since formation of the unity government because the service chiefs were refusing to attend the council because Tsvangirai is a member.

Many of the army and police commanders, who are hardliner supporters of Mugabe, have publicly said they do not recognise Tsvangirais position or authority. But the security chiefs appeared to soften their stance on the Premier when they attended the July meeting.

However that inaugural NSC meeting only dealt with formal introductions with no substantive security issues discussed, according to government insiders.

The unity government has done well to stabilise the economy and end inflation that was estimated at more than a trillion percent at the height of the countrys economic meltdown last year.

But analysts remain doubtful about the administrations long-term effectiveness, citing unending squabbles between Zanu (PF) and the MDC and the coalition governments inability to secure direct financial support from rich Western nations.

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