HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsUN envoy not fooled by Zanu PF trickery

UN envoy not fooled by Zanu PF trickery


After a week of blandishments by Zanu PF bureaucrats and stage-managed fields trips all intended to flatter the visiting United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navenethem Pillay, the ruse collapsed at the end of the visit.

The international jurist had been taken to the farms, to tobacco auction floors and met government officials who sought to convince her that Zimbabwe was a victim of sanctions and that the story of human rights violations was a creation of the international media.

Pillay, however, saw through this charade and at the end of her visit spoke decisively against having a rushed election which would be fraught with violence and death. More critically, she saw the danger of the militarys meddling in politics.

I have heard much concern about the role of the military, including a recent statement by one of the countrys most senior army officers suggesting the army should throw its weight behind one political party when for any country to be called, its army must observe strict political neutrality, she said.

In other words, the international community see the statements by army Chief-of-Staff Martin Chedondo as a major threat to democracy in this country.

No amount of apple-polishing with Pillay could wipe away this major aberration in the politics of this country. President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants have reached a stage where they are more comfortable with the backing of the military than with popular support.

We have since 2000 seen Zimbabwes authoritarian regime hardening considerably with the polity becoming more and more militarised and the military being politicised.

There is therefore a dangerous setting where the military establishment in this country can be recruited to alter the will of the people during an election and force them to vote for Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Security sector reform is critical to correcting the potentially explosive situation ahead of polls which Mugabe said would happen this year. But hardliners in Zanu PF have closed off all avenues for reform of the military.

Civilian-military relations were at the heart of Zimbabwes apprehensive power-sharing experiment when the Global Political Agreement was penned in 2008. The success of the GNU rested on de-politicising and reprofessionalising the military.

The failure to reform the military has been the bane of the unity government in which the two MDCs can only watch as the military has influenced key policy issues deemed to impinge on national security and has inflected the management of the government with its own military bureaucracy.

This is no democracy and what is chilling about all this is that there is a strong faction in Zanu PF that is beyond caring about the destructive role of the military in politics. In fact there is an active invitation of the force to do more.

This is the gang that cannot win a free and fair election and will resist civilian control over security forces.

This is the Zimbabwe that Pillay saw; one which is headed towards politically motivated human rights abuses, including killings, torture and rape.

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