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Mugabe gives nod to reforms


THE MDC-T has described President Robert Mugabe’s recent assent to the new constitution containing clauses on State security sector and media reforms as a sign that the Zanu PF leader had given the nod to the reforms which his party hardliners had fiercely resisted.


MDC-T foreign affairs secretary Jameson Timba told NewsDay yesterday that his party was happy that its demands for reforms in the security sector and media had now been “constitutionalised” by the gazetting of the new constitution last Wednesday.

“In signing for the new constitution, Mugabe has also signed security sector and media reforms into law,” Timba said.

But Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo yesterday dismissed the position, accusing the MDC-T of misinterpreting the new governance charter.

Added Timba: “The new constitution, which he (Mugabe) assented to, gives legal effect to security sector and media reforms in the country. This is in keeping with the dictates of the Global Political Agreement, which calls for non-partisan media and security establishment.”

Provisions to do with the conduct of security services, citizenship, elections, human rights, media, local government and public administration and leadership, among others, came into effect last Wednesday, while the remaining sections will be effective when a new Executive is sworn in.

The MDCs have been calling for security sector realignment before the country can hold the forthcoming polls, whose dates are yet to be proclaimed, accusing the securocrats of siding with Zanu PF and unleashing a wave of violence against Mugabe’s opponents during elections.

Service chiefs have repeatedly declared their allegiance to Mugabe, vowing never to accept a President without liberation war credentials, in apparent reference to MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, a strong contender for the top post held by Mugabe since 1987.

But Section 208 of the new constitution stipulates members of the armed services should be apolitical.

“Neither the security services nor any of their members may, in the exercise of their functions, act in a partisan manner; further the interests of any political party or cause; prejudice the lawful interests of any political party or cause; or violate the fundamental rights and freedoms of any person,” reads the section.

“Members of the security services must not be active members or office-bearers of any political party or organisation.”

Timba said it was now a prosecutable offence for uniformed forces to dabble in partisan politics.

Observers have accused the security service chiefs of being a threat to Zimbabwe’s democracy with their continued utterances, which are seen as coup threats.

Tsvangirai recently conducted a whirlwind tour of the region rallying Sadc leaders to rein in Mugabe and force him to implement security sector reforms to avoid a repeat of the 2008 election bloodbath.

But Gumbo yesterday insisted that security sector reforms were non-negotiable, accusing the MDC-T of failing to interpret the new charter.

“That is nonsense! What we know is that President Mugabe signed the Constitution, period,” Gumbo said.

“There is nothing suggesting that that President Mugabe signed for security sector or media reforms. The MDC-T may interpret the Constitution any way they want.”

MDC secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the signing of the new constitution without an Act of Parliament to support it was a futile exercise.

“Having principles without being supported by Acts of Parliament does not necessarily make any effect,” she said.

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