Soldiers cannot be politicians

It is vital that SADC and the African Union directly address Zimbabwe’s unique challenge of a politically active and blatantly partisan security sector leadership.

Dewa Mavhinga
Dewa Mavhinga

Rules of political engagement guiding the region are clear: they prohibit the security sector from involvement in civilian affairs, and this must be monitored and enforced.

And now it appears some of the “generals” have political ambitions. Member of the military have constituted themselves into a company in partnership with the Chinese, Anjin, to mine Marange diamonds – completely outside the ambit of the national fiscus.

The central question to be answered in order to resolve the crisis is not whether or not the extremely partisan and highly policitized security sector leadership will again stop an electoral victory by political actors other than Zanu (PF), but, how to deal with the security sector when that happens.

The driving force that reversed the MDC electoral victory in 2008, robbed the people of a democratic expression of their will and led to protracted negotiations – not about transfer of power, but about resurrection of Zanu (PF) from the ashes of electoral defeat – was the partisan leadership of the security sector. It remains the same today.

Despite being agreed to by signatories to the GPA, there has been little security sector reform beyond setting up the NSC on paper while keeping JOC in practice.

JOC has power to defy or amend decisions of Cabinet – and therefore, effectively to run a parallel, defiant government.

While in 2008 the leadership of the security sector operating as JOC had interfered in the electoral process primarily as tool in the hands of president Mugabe and Zanu (PF), there are strong indications that this time around they seek to be a political factor with direct political interests and ambitions outside the current framework. – Dewa Mavhinga, Acting Director & Regional Coordinator, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

Post published in: News

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