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'Resistance and Denial' in Zimbabwe Frustrate Reform - Int'l Crisis Group

The Crisis Group said reform of the national security apparatus has been frustrated by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party which sees the security sector as the 'ultimate line of defense for its hegemony'

A stalled reform process in Zimbabwe combined with rising political violence is putting the country's national unity governent at risk, says a new report from the International Crisis Group which notes however that even 2012 may be too early for elections.

In a report entitled “Resistance and Denial: Zimbabwe's Stalled Reform Agenda,” the Crisis Group says what it terms inadequate progress in implementing media, electoral and especially security sector reforms is undermining political and economic recovery.

"Transition and reform appear stalemated in Zimbabwe," the Crisis Group says, noting an "entrenched pattern" of "negotiated solutions" reached by representatives of the three parties in power in Harare "followed by interminable delays in execution."

Reform of the police, military and other components of the national security apparatus in particular has been frustrated by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party," not least because it wishes to preserve the monopoly control of the security sector it relies on as the ultimate line of defense for its hegemony," concludes the Crisis Group.

Though ZANU-PF has demanded elections in the first quarter of 2012, "most analysts concur that the earliest the country could conceivably be ready is late that year." But the Crisis Group says that with further delays in the constitutional revision process and the reform process likely, "the first half of 2013 is much more realistic."

The Crisis Group noted that some analysts have interpreted the resurgence in political violence in October and November amid allegations of complicity by ZANU-PF and the police as "a renewed attempt to force collapse of the GPA and an early vote."

International Crisis Group Senior Vice President Mark Schneider said in an interview that there has been "a significant degree of repression" by security forces and by militias that "seem to respond to those security forces," creating an environment that is not conducive to productive political discussion by the contending parties in the government.

"Essentially, Zimbabwe needs to move forward towards a political resolution, adoption of a constitution, and setting in motion the building blocks for a fair and credible election over the next year and a half," Schneider said, "and the reality is that the environment for those steps has to include a greater degree of responsiveness of the security sectors to the rule of law and unfortunately we have not seen that take place."

Political analyst Charles Mutasa told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that blame for poor progress on the reform front should not be laid with one party, as stakeholders on both sides have been pushing to see the Global Political Agreement fulfilled.

Elsewhere, the parliamentary committee leading the constitutional revision process has appealed for more than US$4 million to complete a draft and hold a final conference of national stakeholders before proceeding to a referendum on the matter.

ZANU-PF co-chairman Paul Mangwana said his panel asked Finance Minister Tendai Biti for government funding after donor agencies led by the United Nations Development Program pulled out demanding an end to mounting political violence.

Co-Chairman Douglas Mwonzora of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said the Global Political Agreement spells out that a final stakeholders conference must be held before the referendum is called.

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