By XOLISANI NCUBE
Zimbabwe’s security forces are divided and pushing different agendas, United Kingdom-based academics have said, while ruling out the possibility of another military takeover.
Presenting evidence before UK’s Parliamentary Committee on International Development on Tuesday, Stephen Chan, a professor of politics and international studies at SOAS, University of London and Jocelyn Alexander, a professor of Commonwealth Studies at the University of Oxford said President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not in total control of the security system, hence the divided approach to recent demonstrations.
“I think the government’s response has been clumsy and it seems to me that what we have is not just a government response to the issues, but a divided government response to issues. There seems to be a divided approach to protest issues, not only that, the security forces themselves seem to be divided. It’s not about the issue of interest rivalry, but a true reflection of division within the system,” Chan said.
He said the manner in which the army reacted to the demonstration was brutal with the aim to end any more future protests by the citizens.
“This was a great deal to send warnings to the future that they should not be unrests in the future, the beatings are systematic to ensure that you are left with wounds to tell a tale to relatives, friends and so on,” Chan said.
Alexander said tension within the intelligence units was so deep that Mnangagwa has to act to bring the military and civilian intelligence to work together.
“You have tensions between the two intelligence services, the military and the Central Intelligence Organisation running through different factions within Zanu PF, so to try and simplify this it is really a black box when trying to analyse the situation, but they are important and a reflection of the workings when it comes to the reaction to the protests,” she said.
Alexander added that Mnangagwa’s regime had a challenge with policy consistency with some pushing for reforms, while others are fighting for subsidies and this has an impact on the economic revival agenda.
“We have a whole Vice-President (Kembo Mohadi) announcing that we are going to establish State-run pharmacies, and State-run bus transport system, and this is against what the Finance minister (Mthuli Ncube) is doing. This is not just an economic issue, but political division and it’s playing a big role in understanding Zimbabwe,” she said.
The committee had invited the academics together with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Harriet Baldwin, and Annabel Gerry, who heads the Department for International Development in Zimbabwe and South Africa, to brief them so that London makes an appropriate decision on Zimbabwe after initially adopting a soft stance towards Mnangagwa’s government.
Speaking before the same committee, Simukai Chigudu an associate professor of African politics and fellow of St Antony’s College said the international community rushed to embrace Mnangagwa, without realising that he was part of the old regime led by former President Robert Mugabe that was known for gross human right violations.