SADC took what could be its firmest stance on Zimbabwe, urging the security sector to respect the new Constitution and be apolitical.
By STAFF REPORTER
Regional leaders on Saturday expressed concern at the utterances by senior security leaders, advising that this could plunge Zimbabwe into a crisis if not handled well.
Sources revealed that Botswana’s President Ian Khama, a retired general, was taken aback by statements from securocrats that they will not salute anyone without liberation war credentials.
“Khama asked why people were still talking about a bush war that ended 33 years ago,” a source told Southern Eye. “He pointed out that when the liberation war was fought, it was not against the MDCs and such rhetoric was misplaced.”
Security sector reform is one of the thorny issues in the coalition government, with senior officials implying that they will not accept a Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai victory.
Police boss, Augustine Chihuri, has in the past insinuated that Tsvangirai was a malcontent, while army commander Constantine Chiwenga described the Premier as a malcontent.
In his report to the summit, South African President Jacob Zuma made recommendations about security sector reforms, which the regional leaders adopted.
“On the security sector, summit underscored the obligation of our security chiefs to respect the Constitution and issue a statement complying with Article 208 of the new Constitution, which speaks to the neutrality of our security forces, that they cannot be active members of any political party and that they will respect, salute and obey any legitimate constitutional order,” MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti said after the meeting.
“I think it was a very important meeting, in which wisdom prevailed. I think at the end of the day all three Zimbabwean political parties spoke as one on this issue.”
MDC leader Welshman Ncube confirmed that they had thrashed out the issue of the security sector, saying Zuma’s report had covered the issue.
“That is part of the facilitator’s report recommendation that was also adopted, for the specific formatting of that recommendation, you need to go and read the facilitator’s report,” he said.
Sources who attended the meeting revealed that Zanu PF had defended the security sector, although Sadc prevailed on them.
The two MDCs have insisted that the security sector needs to be realigned, but this has been resisted by Zanu PF which insists there is no need to reform the sector.
Zanu PF, the MDCs allege, has in the past used members of the security sector to lead its terror campaign, intimidating voters to vote for the party.