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Defence Minister's remarks on security sector reform questionable
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
February 06, 2013

Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is greatly perturbed by the Defence Policy presentation made by Zimbabwean Minister of Defence, Honourable Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday 04 February during the National Defence College in Harare.

In his speech, Mnangagwa said he remains adamant in dismissing chances of Zimbabwe having security sector reforms. His definition of security sector reform according to the speech, translates to non-governmental orgnisations and trade unions operating in the defence forces. He added that, as people and a party with liberation credentials, they will ensure that the Defence Forces "continue to jealously safeguard national interests in line with the ideal of the liberation. Those advocating for security sector reforms were trying to bring about regime change in Zimbabwe. They do not want to have a Defence Forces that is knowledgeable, focused and revolutionary. We are against it. They would want a kind of defence force that is pliant to foreign interests, that allows expropriation of national resources without question.

While we appreciate the army jealously safeguarding interests as well as value the ideals of the struggle that liberated this country, we condemn the definition of the uniformed forces' duty being flexed and manipulated to serve interests of certain entities and political parties.

The speech was misleading particularly considering that the army form one of the important arms of the nations. ZimRights notes, apprehensively that the trend seems to signal politicians' intentions to manipulate such systems into being institutions of indoctrinating young minds with political party values. This is not the first time bearers of public offices have misdirected troops in barrack as well as publicly show allegiance to certain political party yet fully aware of the contravention of their constitutional duties. Brigadier General Nyikayaramba hit the headlines for similar reasons in 2011.

Major General Martin Chedondo in May 2012 during a battlefields exercise encouraged more than 3000 young soldiers from the 2 brigade in Mutoko so support ZANU PF because it is a revolutionary party and is the only party he perceived to have national interests at heart. It is a major cause for concern that such utterances have gone without being given any attention yet they constitute factors that justify the need for security sector reform.

The proper definition of security sector reform is divorced from the minister's interpretation. It is such perceptions that trigger the call for security sector reforms. This is after the nation experienced one of the bloodiest elections in its history in the form of state sponsored violence and involvement of unformed forces. Thus, security sector reform from that dimension involves demystifying the belief that certain parties are preferable beneficiaries of the Zimbabwean army by virtue of what they consider to be a comparative advantage. It is that behaviour that must be witted out and is imperative in the face of possible lections at the expiration of the coalition government.

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