Democratic Forces should seize the Moment as ZANU PF Remains Cornered

After the 29 March 2008 relatively free and fair general election won by the then opposition MDC, ZANU PF engaged in violent political repression against pro-democracy activists especially after its leader Robert Mugabe lost to MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the presidential poll.

When this history of the fall of ZANU PF is written, this remains a critical phase and moment in the political demise of the former liberation party.

The regime enlisted the support of the army to run the presidential run-off against unarmed civilians whose only crime was to choose a leader and party of their choice. The result of that 27 June 2008 poll is what brings Zimbabwe to the sad state it is today, a country governed by an illegitimate ZANU PF elite that derives its powers from the coercive apparatuses of the State, the army, police and the secret agents.

Dismissing Mugabe's sham electoral victory were the AU and SADC observer missions joined by the EU the Confederation of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and individual countries such as Botswana and Zambia who were very clear on the illegitimacy of the Harare regime.

SADC has met four times in Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and Angola and discussed the Zimbabwean problems among other issues. At all these occasions, President Mugabe has been reminded to respect the GPA and allow the implementation of necessary reforms that could lead to free, fair and credible elections.

The last meeting in Angola insisted on previous positions of the regional group basically telling Mugabe that the period electoral unilateralism and the dictatorship of the past 30 years is no longer acceptable to SADC especially after Zimbabweans have made it clear to the ZANU PF leadership that they are now an expired and irrelevant lot.

Instead of taking hid, ZANU PF is slowly returning to the pre-GPA situation as it prepares for a violent election. The spate of arrests of pro-democracy forces, assaults on political activist including two alleged murders of MDC activists in Mutoko and Zaka districts as well as the continued abuse of the armed forces indications ZANU PF electoral strategy; the use of violence for political ends.

ZANU PF needs to appreciate that world leaders and leading democracies will refuse to legitimize a violent electoral process and outcome and his situation will be more difficult after the fall of his regional ally Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. The message across the Limpopo from the President Zuma's administration clearly indicates that business would not be as usual until Zimbabwe has a legitimate government. The call by President Jacob Zuma to have a democratic road map to the holding of future elections sends a clear message to ZANU PF that a rigged poll is unacceptable.

Meanwhile ZANU PF has already identified its enemies as civil society, the political opposition mainly the formations of the MDC and foreign companies through a bogus but politically-driven indigenous program meant to widen the clientele base of the regime.

It is clear that ZANU PF's Look East Policy has failed hence its continued cries to re-engage the West by removing the targeted sanctions it claims were imposed on the country although the sanctions regime deals with individuals in ZANU PF, government and business who aide and abate political and human rights violations in the country.

The doors to re-engagement with the West are also shut by virtue of the fact that the West still feels that the Mugabe regime has not complied with set conditions to restore the rule of law, improve its human rights record, and ensure genuine freedoms of the people of Zimbabwe through repealing repressive legislation, and disbanding youth militias. Clear pronouncements to that end have come from the EU recently.

The unanimous decision by the UN Security Council in 2011 to impose sanctions on ZANU PF's long time ally the late dictator, Muamar Gaddafi leaves the regime in a serious political quandary. It was the Security Council's decision to refer Gaddafi's criminal conduct in the uprising in Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC) that unsettles ZANU PF most especially because that decision was taken with the consent of Russia and China, countries that usually block such moves.


Most critically, ZANU PF thought that the two countries will shield them against international censor on charges against human rights violations. International politics and relations have dramatically changed and ZANU PF should think again on its electoral and human rights violations as it continues with its mischievous call for elections without reforms.

For the last 10 years civil society and the political opposition in Zimbabwe have been advocating for the repealing of POSA, AIPPA and other such repressive legislation reminiscent of colonial and apartheid times.

Consistently ZANU PF has stood in defense of these repressive laws as necessary to maintain law and order in Zimbabwe, a euphemism for its illegitimate stay in power. These reforms are contained in the GPA that SADC is consistently asking the parties to implement.

The academic cabal in ZANU PF is misleading their political handlers against reforms yet both at home and abroad that decision is exposing Mugabe's leadership as it seems to send a message that the violent political misconduct of his leadership is the basis for future electoral and political organization of Zimbabwe.

Instead of bowing down to popular domestic, regional and international sentiments by repealing these laws, the ZANU PF elements in the government continue to selectively use these laws to further their narrow political interests by applying laws such as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) to demean the substance and social fibre of the justice system in Zimbabwe.

Indications are that the POSA, a worthy successor to Rhodesia's Law and Order Maintenance Act, is a favored tool of rule by ZANU PF and its use might be heightened if the political impasse continues. It should not be forgotten that the central objective of promulgating these laws and the setting up of other institutions and infrastructure of repression, was to silence the democratic forces in Zimbabwe, and for as long as ZANU PFs legitimacy is questioned, it will continue to use these draconian laws as safe guards to its illegitimacy.

This political intransigency by ZANU PF because of its failure to democratize its internal politics and the future of a life outside the reach of looting the national coffers and genuine fears of prosecution for their continued alleged criminal misconduct makes the regime feel cornered. The political cabal doesn't see the incentives for democratization.

As a result, Zimbabwean politics reads like a nomad's diary. Fraught with promises of a better future, every election has been read as a unique opportunity to set the pace for development through creating a new vision that people must rally behind. All these hopes are dashed by an increasingly stubborn political elite.

The result has been increased commercialization of democratic processes at the expense of genuine people's interests. The hunger for power has seen the emasculation of the citizenry as politicians continuously see themselves as the "be all € and the "end all € of the crises affecting the country.

Adorned in robes depicting economic and social salvation, many of the country's politicians from the ZANU PF regime have cajoled the country's citizenry into believing that the greatest enemy is outside the country, and anyone averse to their principles is selling out.

ZANU PF's loss in the 2008 general election has a number of ramifications in terms of governance and democracy. The first inclination for the party is its increased sense of fear and threat against the country's independence by outsiders who it accuses of supporting the opposition through sanctions.

The regime is using this warped thinking to abuse human rights on the misguided view that they are safeguarding the national interest when it is clear that the citizens are no longer interested n the hollow and bankrupt politics of a tired liberation discourse wrapped in a farce of oppression.

In this regard, civil society organizations and the democratic opposition have huge challenges. They have to continue to guard against complacency by not believing that the Inclusive Government made up of three political parties alone can resolve the crisis.

It is at this juncture of a possible political transition build on SADC consistency on creating political normalcy in Zimbabwe premised on fulfilling the GPA reforms and the outcome of the 29 March 2008 general election that civil society groups should remain independent and continue to push for the full democratization of the country premised on the rule of law.

Half baked measures such as the government of national unity should be left to politicians while civil society groups continue to push for the total dismantling of the infrastructure of violence build over the years by ZANU PF, media reforms especially a democratic process that leads to the liberalization of the airwaves not the face powder process being organized by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe that is awarding television and radio licenses to surrogates of ZANU PF.

Democratic political forces in Zimbabwe should ride on the current moves by SADC, AU and the international community to refuse to legitimize the ZANU PF regime's call for elections without reforms and continue to lobby the national, regional and international communities for a fully fledged democratic process leading to credible electoral processes in Zimbabwe. The Historical Roots of Militarising Public Affairs in Zimbabwe: Then and Now.

Zimbabwe's military elites dabbling into politics is historically rooted. This paper will seek to shed more light on the historical roots of militarising public affairs during the war of liberation and how this trend continued post independence. Most particularly it will seek to enunciate the evolution of military politics and how that has shaped and influenced events in post-independent Zimbabwe. In both the colonial and post-colonial epochs the military was seen as an interlocutor to prevailing crisises. Therefore, it is argued in this paper the continued utterances by the military elites of not willing to subjecting themselves to civilian control and of late pronouncements by the Minister of (in)Justice Patrick Chinamasa, that Zimbabwe risks going the Libya route is an attempt by ZANU PF to militarise public affairs.

The adoption of the socialist ideology and link to China (ZANLA) and Russia (ZIPRA), which were the two main military wings of ZANU and ZAPU, had far reaching impact of creating a politicized military. In both liberation movements there was a political commissar, whose main task among others was to make sure that the freedom fighters understood the ethos of the war of liberation. In this case the ZANLA and ZIPRA cadres were not just ordinary soldiers from the barracks but highly politicized combatants heavily imbibed by Socialism (Gutsaruzhinji/ijekelele).   The politicization of the freedom fighters is evident in Wilfred Mhanda's Book, Dzino: Memories of a Freedom Fighter, where the first module learnt by fighters in training was Political Orientation with the following topics (i) Pouring out of national grievances (ii) The people's army and (iii) The people's war. This module was the second lengthy in duration after the weapons handling module and thus the outcome was what Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu called guerilla armies that operated as military-cum politicians. Therefore, political education meant a highly politicized military and it partly explains why Pungwes (the night meetings that the freedom fighters had) were quite popular with ZANLA. This observation is corroborated by Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu who observes that, "Thus (ZANLA and ZIPRA), even though they were not directly involved in the political direction of the nationalist movement, some of them tried to assume the role of umpires - the ultima ratio regum - of how the nationalist movement was to operate and under what conditions and terms €.   Therefore ZIPA was a clear attempt by the military to dominated civilian affairs despite the positive intentions. Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu thus further observes that "ZIPA guerrillas (an out-fit of both ZIPRA and ZANLA) tried to vigorously embrace the Marxist- Leninist philosophy ahead of their leaders, discarding factionalism and fight as a united force, and to embrace the armed liberation option as the only solution to the Rhodesian problem €. Similarly the 11th March Movement in ZAPU of 1971 and Nhari Revolt are other cases in point where the military sought to be the ultima ratio regum.

A careful reading of Wilfred Mhanda's book Dzino: Memories of a Freedom Fighter gives credence to the observation by Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu, as there are many instances in which the military took direct involvement in the affairs of Civilian ZANU, for instance the ZANU Biennial Conference of August 1973 held in Lusaka first saw Tongogara subverting electoral procedures into DARE to accommodate soldiers to vote in elections that they were not supposed to and secondly the election  saw a number of military cadres entering the policy making body of the party. More so, the fall out between Ndabaningi Sithole and the ZANLA High Command and subsequent elevation and acceptance of Robert Mugabe as ZANU leader were orchestrated by the military. The military thus has been a significant player in public affairs. Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu makes three interesting observations about the war of liberation armies:

(i) Guerrilla armies of ZAPU (ZIPRA) and ZANU (ZANLA) like other armies enjoyed the monopoly of applying force on civilians.

(ii) Guerrilla armies were different from conventional forces in that they were highly politicised if not indoctrinated to the extent that they operated as military cum political units. They carried in their heads nationalist movements' ideologies and they were the active recruiters of the masses on behalf of their nationalist parties. They had access to the masses and they played a fundamental role in politicising the peasants in rural Zimbabwe

(iii) Guerrilla armies were not confined to the barracks; rather they existed like 'fish in water' among the public, to borrow Mao-Tse Tung's words.

Therefore, liberation armies had never been armies confided to the barracks which creates a cause for concern as observed by Ruth First that once armies cross the boundaries of the barracks and step into public affairs/civilian affairs they act like sponges and soak up all social conflicts. Liberation narratives both written and oral are awash with stories of how the fighters (ZANLA and ZIPRA) executed punishment on civilians such as canning and at times summary executions. Similarly the Rhodesian forces were indoctrinated with heavy doses of propaganda of the freedom fighters as terrorists. Sabelo Gatsheni Ndlovu also observes that General Peter Walls also accumulated immense powers within the Rhodesian Front as the military elites became central in determining responses to the armed struggle by the nationalists. Thus, the trend of military elites being involved in public affairs continued until up to 1980 and present day. However in post independence Zimbabwe, the role of Military elites in public affairs was perfected, though with an aim of creating a one party nation and party state by ZANU PF as observed by Norma Kriger. This was epitomized by the Gwara reZANU (ZANU's Path) concept. To this effect that national narratives that ensued were to exalt the supremacy and invincibility of ZANLA exploits within the struggle. The army continued to be used to deal with political adversaries in Zimbabwe and one interesting tale is the mystery of the Puma Accidents (Puma is the name that was given to the military vehicles and a lot of them were famed of having accidents with politicians) in the eigthties and nineties that claimed the lives of various politicians including William Ndangana among them. The security was also heavily involved in Operation Chinyavada that was carried out in the early years of independence in a bid to wipe out the streets of prostitutes. More so, at this time were the youth brigades (remnants of the liberation war who failed to be integrated in the army) who went about in Khaki uniforms and acted as a ZANU defacto militia that terrorized villagers made sure that they were not lost from Gwara Remusangano (ZANU's Path).

The terrorization of villagers by the Korean trained 5th Brigade in Matabeleland was another attempt by the military elites in ZANU to deal with a political issue that could have been solved through civil means. In the ultimate a significant number of Ndebele communities suffered and till bear the scars of militarising public affairs.

The excessive reliance on the supremacy of the bullet and gun by ZANU's ruling elite is a phenomenon rooted in history. The heavy handedness of the army in the 1998 food riots in Chitungwiza is a case in point. The then minister of Home Affairs Emerson 'Ngwena' Mnangagwa invoked the state of emergency powers provided for under the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA) and this saw the army displaying extreme force such as the use of tankers to quell angry and rioting unarmed citizens. When quizzed in the film 'Never the Same Again', on the use of LOMA   a colonial piece of legislation that was used to suppress freedom fighters and Africans' quest for democracy, Mnangagwa retorted that 'I do not like the Law and Order Maintenance Act but sometimes it is handy, it is handy'. This clearly shows that for the securocrats force/coercion solves everything just like a carpenter would thing that everything needs a hammer for he/she sees nails only. The involvement of the army in collaboration with the War Veterans to execute the Jambanja on the farms, Operation Restore Order (Murambatsvina dubbed gukurahundi 2) an recently the June 2008 runoff are further cases in point of the military elites trespassing from the barracks into civilian affairs.

It is this unresolved history of the military elite's excursion into civilian affairs that calls for the reform of the security sector. Thus, calls to reform the security sector in Zimbabwe are not only necessitated by current renegadism within the army but by an unfulfilled historical necessity. The exalting of force/coercion over rationality and persuasion in a time of no known or any declared war on Zimbabwe needs to be nipped in the bud. More, so pronouncement of a second Libya or Ivory Coast in Zimbabwe by the like s of Chinamasa are a form of propaganda and blackmail attempts on SADC and AU in case the military elites try to subvert the will of the people as has been the case. The strategy is clear, trumpet to the Africans that the West intends to bomb Zimbabwe and install a puppet government, and consequently avoid sanction from the mentioned bodies. It is an attempted to write its own blank cheque and at the same time cash it. However, this time SADC has been up to the game and hence the call for sticking to the reform agenda before the elections. The military elites know it that without force/coercion ZANU PF will quickly fast-tracked to the national archives and dustbins of history. Their audit clearly showed them that the party is in tatters and in shambles, with no clear structures at the grassroots. 'Chinokura chinokotama musoro weGudo chava chinokoro' (Everything has a beginning and an ending).

Tamuka Charles Chirimambowa

Political Economist

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