Serving and retired officers from Zimbabwe's military, police and intelligence are tightening their stranglehold on Zanu-PF as information emerges that President Robert Mugabe’s party will waive its rules governing primary elections to accommodate them.
Former senior security officers are already running the party’s influential political commissariat department, key in formulating strategies for elections.
Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo confirmed to VOA that top leaders in the party, known as the presidium, are currently considering a proposal to waive requirements to accommodate the former officers who want to represent Zanu-PF in crucial polls expected to be called this year.
Multiple Zanu-PF sources told VOA that an unprecedented number of serving senior army and retired officers, police, air force and the Central Intelligence Organisation operatives, want to run for parliamentary seats this year. It is not clear if the serving officers will resign from active service.
Current and former officers seeking political office include Assistant Police Commissioner Everisto Pfumvuti, Commanding Support Unit, Elias Kanengoni, CIO deputy director internal, CIO operative Lesly Humbe, Colonel Philip Toperesu, serving army member and Assistant Police Commissioner Oliver Mandipaka.
This has caused friction with some members especially sitting Members of Parliament.
The South African-based Institute for Security Studies says the the fact that many security personnel want to contest as lawmakers indicates that “the security sector may be considering elected office as a way to protect its privileges and assets rather than military force, which would be opposed regionally and internationally.”
Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi, director of the Media Centre, told VOA that relaxing rules will not end factionalism in Zanu-PF.
The unity government agreement – which was brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after the 2008 elections erupted in violence – included proposals for security sector reform, but little headway has been made.
According to the Global Political Agreement, the bedrock of the agreement, “state organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties… there [shall] be inclusion in the training curriculum of members of the uniformed forces of the subjects on human rights, international humanitarian law and statute law so that there is greater understanding and full appreciation of their roles and duties in a multi-party democratic system.”