- Last Updated on 29 February 2012
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The year 2012 poses as a crucial year for most Zimbabweans as they gear up for the referendum and possible general elections. The past few months have witnessed an upsurge in violence, intimidation and land grabbing orchestrated by the ZANU PF machinery in order to instill fear in the opposition. ZANU PF and its functionaries continue to believe that reform in Zimbabwe is a foreign driven agenda aimed at taking away the gains of the liberation struggle. This has become ZANU PF's song when dealing with the issues of democratic reform for the past decade.
The church is a crucial and important arm in nation building and development as it brings about spiritual and moral guidance. A group of six church leaders led by Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe President, Dr Goodwill Shana has produced a position paper entitled, "The role of the church in nation building in Zimbabwe"which they have taken to the region as a way to lobby for key reforms which are critical to Zimbabwe's development. As a response to this, ZANU PF and its allies have again taken it as a "regime change plot" orchestrated by the 'West' to topple Mugabe and his Government.
It has become the norm for ZANU PF that anyone who differs with its ideologies is termed as a Western or regime change ally. The Churches in Zimbabwe have taken the fight for reforms to the region with the hope that after the Constitution making process is over they should be meaningful political, electoral, media and security reforms before the holding of free and fair elections. This has, however not gone down well with the 'liberation' party ZANU PF which has now termed the Churches'position paper an ill-informed document; and likened it to the position paper of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). This however is a clear indication of the nature of ZANU PF, of being afraid to let the people speak out. The Church is not the only entity which has spoken about the need for reforms, but also, Civil Society Organizations and various individuals have strongly called for the urgent need for reforms, only to be criticized and viewed as regime change agents.
ZANU PF has repeatedly insisted that democratic reforms are not necessary in Zimbabwe and on several occasions, the party has argued that the country's security sector needs no reforms, citing the reason that the police force has managed to do peacekeeping work in many countries in the world. This is however debatable as the police are well known for their brutality and partisan behavior. Police Commissioner-General, Augustine Chihuri, is on record as saying the calls for security sector reforms in the country are a foreign agenda aimed at "breeding" chaos. However, police in Zimbabwe arrest opposition party loyalists as a way of intimidating and instilling fear in the opposition. They disrupt opposition rallies and meetings accusing them of causing mayhem in the country. The same police officers whom Chihuri describes as a "people's police force", arbitrarily arrest pro-democracy players while ZANU PF militia groups such as Chipangano roam freely and cause havoc without being arrested.
Also as testimony to ZANU PF's phobia to democratic reforms in the country are its continued attempts at denying Zimbabweans of a constitutional reform. The party is at it again and recently, it has gone on to accuse the two MDC formations and the three drafters of crafting a constitution personalized to attack President Mugabe. This follows reports that the new supreme law proposes to bar candidates above 70 years of age from contesting in Zimbabwe's elections. The draft is also said to carry a clause that says, "A person is disqualified for election as President if he or she has already held office for one or more periods, whether continuous or not, amounting to 10 years". Infuriated by this, the party has shamefully declared that it will not recognize a constitution that is detrimental to its existence. It has even said that Mugabe would never sign off the new charter if it blocked him from contesting.
It is clear that ZANU PF's actions have become so predictable and Zimbabweans are now aware of its old tactics to stay in power. Its calls for early elections in the absence of critical democratic reforms is only because the party is well aware that these reforms will enable the holding of free and fair elections which will end their 31 years hold on power.