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May 03, 2007
As a student,
I watched the transition of Rhodesia into Zimbabwe after the Lancaster
House accords. It was a time of hope.
I felt sorry
for supporters of the outgoing and illegal white regime -- they
had been duped by the Ian Smith government -- and I was optimistic
about the prospects for Zimbabwe under the far-sighted Dr Robert
As a soldier
in the British army, I served alongside Zimbabwean officers in the
United Kingdom. They were able and professional soldiers and I shared
From time to
time, these soldiers mentioned the Fifth Brigade, a group of Zimbabwean
soldiers who, at the time, were being trained by officers from North
Korea. I dismissed their anxieties as mere Cold War rhetoric.
Today, the hand
of a malevolent force can be felt in all corners of Zimbabwe. This
sinister presence first made itself felt in the massacres carried
out by the Fifth Brigade in Matabeleland in the 1980s.
That force is
a legacy of Mugabe's rule -- and it will outlive him.
He has to go.
Just as other dictators, among them Saddam Hussein, have gone before
him. But for Zimbabweans, Iraq provides a cautionary tale.
in power by dint of their machinery, and this usually means some
distortion of the state's defence machinery. With regard to Hussein,
this was certainly the case.
reforming the security sector should be a top priority.
In the aftermath
of the 2003 Iraq invasion, the decision by the United States to
put in place an interim authority under Paul Bremmer brought the
added blunder that the Iraqi military was dismissed. At the time,
many recognised that a dangerous vacuum was being created. The extent
of the consequences of that decision is only apparent now.
As a lesson,
and with hindsight, it would have been better to put an Iraqi administration
in power immediately, as no one knew better than the Iraqis how
to manage their country. What can we learn from this with regard
to Zimbabwe post-Mugabe?
is important to accept the scale of the damage his regime has done.
This means that those Zimbabweans who have lived through the years
of desolation, both in the country and in exile, must be involved
in the clear-up in a leading role.
They can manage
the transition to the future by managing the transformation of the
armed forces and police from an instrument of oppression under the
old regime to the new nation's security forces. That is where we
are right now in Iraq, about four years after the invasion and with
much work to do and many innocent lives lost. The blunder of Iraq
must not be repeated.
know who must be expunged from the security forces to bring this
about. They know who must be kept on, too. They will also recognise
that without strong local forces there will be chaos, like that
which we saw in Iraq. Above all, what Zimbabwe will need is investment.
But there can be no investment without security. One follows the
other as day follows night.
it must be the people of Zimbabwe who manage and guide the weeding
out of the guilty element in the state's forces if stability is
to be achieved. That means handing them the reins of power post-Mugabe.
Of course there will have to be checks and balances, but no one
is more capable of succeeding than the locals. They have, after
all, been thinking about the process and preparing for little else
in the past few years.
served with the British army and was involved in the 2003 United
States-led invasion of Iraq. He describes the aftermath of the war
as a "catastrophe" and a "right rollicking cock-up". Since leaving
the army, his memoirs, Rules of Engagement: A Life in Conflict,
have been published by Headline
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