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Zimbabwe Security Sector Reforms Key to Democratic Transition

Security forces
A new report says the failure by Zimbabwe’s unity government to implement security sector reforms has the potential of blocking a smooth power transition as the country forges ahead with plans to hold fresh elections sometime this year.

The report launched in harare today by a local think-tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), says a democratic transition may be hard to come by in Zimbabwe if security sector reforms as outlined in the Global Political Agreement of power-sharing are not implemented.

Officiating at the launch of the report titled “Security sector factor in Zimbabwe’s political and electoral affairs”, ZDI director Pedzisai Ruhanya called on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) as guarantors of the power-sharing deal to rein in security chiefs ahead of elections expected to be held sometime this year.

The ZDI director urged securocrats to refrain from partisan politics in accordance with their code of conduct, adding that they should refuse to be used as political pawns by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party.

He, however, said this was difficult for the army and police to do as most of them were directly benefitting from Zanu-PF’s economic programs.

Meanwhile, Youth Forum director Wellington Zindove said reports such as the one launched by the ZDI may push organizations such as SADC and the AU to effectively deal with Zimbabwe’s political problems ahead of fresh elections that Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai both want held sometime this year.

The MDC formation of Industry Minister Welshman Ncube wants the elections to be held in October following the implantation of GPA issues and security sector reforms.

Zanu-PF opponents say there must be security sector re-alignment to ensure that the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe are credible.

However, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa are on record saying there will not be any reforms in the security sector before the polls.

Some securocrats such as major generals Martin Chedondo and Douglas Nyikayaramba have declared that they will not salute any elected leader without war credentials in apparent reference to Mr. Tsvangirai.