Building vibrant and tolerant democracies
If anyone was wondering why the security sector in Zimbabwe needs urgent reform, they just need to read the latest comments by a high-ranking military officer in support of President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.
“As soldiers, we will never be apologetic for supporting ZANU-PF because it is the only political party that has national interests at heart,” said Major General Martin Chedondo. “We cannot be seen supporting a political party that is going against the ideals of a nation, which came by as a result of a liberation struggle, which saw many of the country’s sons and daughters losing their lives.”
Except that high-ranking military officers should not be nailing their colours to the mast of a political party. The Zimbabwean defence force is mandated to protect the people of Zimbabwe, not to involve itself in political battles. Nowhere else in southern Africa would serving military officials be able to make such dangerous, partisan statements. They would be disciplined immediately.
“As soldiers we must support ideologies that we subscribe to, I for one will not be apologetic for supporting ZANU-PF because I was part of the liberation struggle."
As Radio VOP points out, Chedondo's statements comes months after Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba stirred a storm when he said he supported the former ruling party because MDC were sell outs. Nyikayaramba, who said the statements when he was a brigadier, has since been promoted to the post of Major General.
Political statements by senior army officials are not new to Zimbabwe. The late army General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Prisons chief retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi and Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri said they will not salute a democratically elected leader who is not Mugabe.
The involvement of the army in politics has seen the MDC legislator for Mbizo, Settlement Chikwinya, moving a motion in parliament asking legislators to treat the statements made by the service chiefs as treason.
While threatening treason in Zimbabwe is unlikely to worry the army chiefs of their friends in ZANU-PF high places, it is surely time for SADC and the mediators to demand that security bosses cease their partisan public statements since they only serve to harden the divides in Zimbabwe and reduce the chances of a peaceful transition to a genuine democracy.ShareThis