I dont hate generals - Tsvangirai

HARARE - Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he does not hold a personal grudge against security service chiefs but wants them to respect civilian authority.

Addressing his party members at an MDC policy conference at the Jubilee Christian Centre in Milton Park in Harare yesterday, Tsvangirai said he had no personal issues with the service chiefs but wanted them to discharge their duties professionally in a non-partisan manner.

 “Some of them think that I hate them but it is not correct,” Tsvangirai said.

“I sit with them in the National Security Council meetings and we discuss. I want them to respect and be answerable to the civilian authority and I will not move from that fact.

“This is what the new constitution is saying about the security service and it is not being personal.”

Zimbabwe overwhelmingly passed a new constitution in a largely peaceful March 16 referendum that among other things reiterates the need for a non-partisan security sector.

Tsvangirai said the service chiefs wanted to personalise issues with him and his party.

Security sector realignment has remained one of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement (GPA) signed in 2008, and guaranteed by Sadc leaders.   

Speaking earlier to the conference, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, who is  also Finance minister,  said the MDC was going to resize and rebrand  the security service  if they romp to victory in the  coming elections.

He said it was one of their agenda in the five-year policy running from 2013 to 2018.

“There will be rebranding of security forces and they will be an Act of Parliament to regularise the operations of the Central Intelligence Officers CIO’s, police and army,” Biti said.

 “They must stay in barracks and not to be involved in the business of diamonds like what we are experiencing now. We shall rationalise the army so that it can fit into the economy as there is no need to have a huge army as if we are going to have war with South Africa.”

Some in the Joint Operations Command (Joc), a security think-tank comprising heads of the army, police, prisons, airforce and the intelligence arm, the CIO, has publicly warned that they would do anything to stop Tsvangirai from taking power if elected.

Tsvangirai, who has pushed for regular monthly meetings with a military crucial to Mugabe’s hold on power, has been snubbed by the generals who have maintained their vow not to work with him.

In the meantime, Zanu PF has staunchly rebuffed calls to dismantle or reform the Joc which the 89-year-old leader’s party insists should remain in existence to oversee operational matters while the NSC handles matters of policy.

Critics claim the Joc, which Mugabe has refused to dismantle, is running a parallel government.

The command is now making policy without Tsvangirai and smaller MDC president Welshman Ncube’s knowledge, and highly- placed sources claim it is also overseeing Mugabe’s re-election strategy.

With Zimbabwe emerging from almost three decades of iron-fisted rule, reformers in the inclusive government are seeking to break with the past by restructuring the country’s security forces and subjecting them to elected civilian control.

 Police chief Augustine Chihuri has publicly described calls by the MDC for the security sector reforms as a “non-issue” that sought to create confusion within the country’s defence forces.

“This is a hollow political gimmick in a futile attempt to try and bring on board the so-called security sector reform, a non-issue in terms of the current Constitutional Amendment number 19 that legalised the Global Political Agreement,” Chihuri said.

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