Time for a Zim Mandela

Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri – no doubting speaking on behalf of the service chiefs – took to the podium last week to once again remind us that they will resist any attempts to reform and restructure the country’s security forces.

Addressing a conference of senior police officers at Dawerndale, Chihuri rejected calls for security sector reforms as part of a foreign agenda meant to destabilise the country.

Charges that the police force is partisan and requiring major restructuring to instill professionalism within the law enforcement agency were not only untrue but a malicious attempt to coerce “the leadership to agree to the so-called security sector reform," Chihuri said, to show his disdain for change within the security forces.

Of course, the simple fact that a civil servant like Chihuri could dare lecture the nation on what reforms are or aren’t permissible is part of the thousand and one reasons why we need to not only restructure and reform the security forces but to retrench a lot of the people in charge of this key state institution.

But to merely focus on the illegality and unconstitutionality of a serving police commissioner dabbling in partisan politics as Chihuri does by picking up Zanu (PF)’s anti-security sector reform banner is to ignore the driving motive behind these utterances by the police chief and his colleagues on the Joint Operations Command (JOC).

And that motive is fear. A deep-seated fear that any genuine security reforms invariably mean decoupling the armed forces from Zanu (PF), which robbed of the muscle provided by the men with guns is as good as out of power.

It is fear of a future in which nothing is certain except that any a new government, especially one led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, could prosecute the security chiefs for gross human rights abuses committed over the years of repression right from the 1980s Gukurahundi atrocities to the murderous campaign to reverse the people’s verdict in the 2008 elections.

For the record, we are not for impunity. We say the above only because we realise that asking the service chiefs — who in truth are neither soldiers nor policemen but Zanu (PF) politicians — to accept reform is to ask them to virtually commit political if not actual suicide.

For far too long the people in charge of the security forces — – have lived above the law. The murders of Tonderayi Ndira in 2008 or Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in 2000 are enough to secure a life term sentence or even the noose for many of those in command that gave the kill orders. Need we even mention the more than 20 000 innocent civilians butchered during Gukurahundi?

But the fortunate thing about all this is that the ball is not in the court of the frightened men of the JOC. The ball is in the court of the people.

Shall we pursue — at any cost — those that have ruined our country and murdered our friends and loved ones over the past three decades? Or what sacrifice are we prepared to make for the chance to rebuild our once beautiful country. The time for a Zimbabwean Mandela is now!

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga

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