Remarks by Zimbabwe National Army commander, Lieutenant General Philip Sibanda, that the military would not allow former colonizers to recolonize the country through the back door using what he said are “misguided elements”, has renewed calls for security sector reform in the southern African nation.
The state-controlled and Zanu PF leaning Herald newspaper quotes Sibanda as making these remarks at a pass out parade in Magunje, Mashonaland West Province, a few days ago.
Human rights groups and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation have accused the 30,000 strong ZNA of unprofessional behavior.
The MDC charges that the military and other arms of the security service are loyal to President Mugabe's Zanu PF party and not the people of Zimbabwe.
Several senior military officials have, since 2002, threatened to stage a coup if President Mugabe lost an election.
Mr. Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have been resisting security sector reforms as agreed in the Global Political Agreement.
Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediator president Jacob Zuma of South Africa has also been pushing for security sector reforms but Mr. Mugabe’s party has refused to give in saying Zimbabwe is a sovereign state. Efforts to reach Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa were futile.
Giles Mutseyekwa, MDC secretary for security and retired major in the ZNA, said Sibanda’s remarks are uncharacteristic of the man saying he is professional but might be under political pressure to make controversial remarks.
Programs manager Joy Mabenge of the Institute for A Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe said security sector reform is long overdue.