First prize: Security reforms

mugabe_bobOnly a total fool could ever take President Robert Mugabe (Pictured) and Zanu (PF)s promise to run an electoral campaign with integrity and to accept the verdict of the electorate, no matter how unpalatable.

This makes it even more urgent that we have an agreed set of rules of engagement or to use ZUMA, SADC and the MDCs favourite term an election roadmap to guide all parties taking part in the next polls. But to place the roadmap above all else – as we are seeing the MDC parties, SADC and its facilitator Zuma doing – is to completely lose the plot.

Zanu (PF) must surely be watching with bated breath as their political rivals and the regional facilitator expend their energies on an election roadmap that, when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the matter, cannot and will never guarantee a successful and peaceful transfer of power to anyone.

In a nutshell, the election roadmap being discussed by party negotiators will, in addition to recommitting the coalition government to hold polls after a referendum on a new constitution, set milestones such as electoral reforms, the role of security forces and how to transfer power smoothly.

But anyone who believes that the 2008 vote flopped simply because Zimbabwe did not have a document stating the role of security forces in an election and how power should be transferred to the ballot winner will believe anything. For starters, you do not need an election roadmap, let alone a new constitution, to know that the place of soldiers, whether we are in an election or not, is in the barracks.

Under the present Constitution and the Electoral Act, the security forces and their Joint Operations Command (JOC) have no institutional role to play in an election beyond ensuring the vote is carried out in an environment of peace, law and order.

That the military can – as it did in 2008 exercise veto power over who shall or shall not rule Zimbabwe, regardless of the outcome of polls, is not because we have not had an election roadmap all these years.

It is simply because the police and the army were hijacked many moons ago by a gang of political thugs (read JOC), who have illegally used the forces to defend the status quo – because for them change means losing power and its financial benefits, not to mention prosecution for the many crimes they have committed against Zimbabweans.

Freeing the army, police and secret service from the clutches of these thugs and predators is the key to a successful and peaceful transition in Zimbabwe. Put differently, what should be preoccupying Zuma, SADC and the MDC parties now is the question of reforming and restructuring the security forces. The election roadmap is welcome. But it is only a second prize.

Getting General Constantine Chiwenga and the other politicians in uniform out of police and defence forces headquarters is the first prize. Failing this, we could cobble up as many new constitutions and as many election roadmaps as we wish, only to find the same cabal standing in the way of genuine change just as it did three years ago.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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