Reform security sector for real change – US envoy

HARARE – United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Charles Ray, says change can only happen in this country if there are reforms in the security sector which is blamed by many for entrenching President Robert Mugabe's rule.\r\n

Ray’s comments are captured in his communication with his superiors in Washington which have been leaked by  the whistleblower website – WikiLeaks.

"There is a strong need in Zimbabwe for security sector reform, as without it, none of the efforts at political reform can be assured," Ray said according to WikiLeaks.

The cables, which have sent a chill to western governments and their intelligence services, carry secret and classified information between the US diplomats and their government on activities in different countries.

WikiLeaks has more than 3000 cables on Zimbabwe and so far released five cables which have caused discomfort in both formations of the MDC and Zanu PF.

ThelLeader of the main faction of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, whose conversations with the US diplomats have renewed Zanu PF propaganda onslaught against his party, is also captured in communication with high ranking European and US officials, in the latest cables.

In a brief to ambassadors from the US, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and the European Union at his residence on December 24, last year WikiLeaks revealed that Tsvangirai told the foreign diplomats that if the electoral body hires its own staff and gets rid of securocrats in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) winning an election will not be difficult.

"Winning the election, he (Tsvangirai) said, is not the problem, but a peaceful transfer of power is," the cable released by WikiLeaks read.

"His goal is to have the Electoral Commission hire its own staff and be independent. The key is to wrest control from the securocrats."

Service chiefs remain the pillar of strength for Mugabe and Zanu PF. They have repeatedly, in different fora, said they won’t salute Tsvangirai.

Other high ranking military officials such as Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba, have warned that they won’t recognize a Tsvangirai victory in any election.

Against this background, civic groups have been lobbying for reforms in the security sector and Ray’s communication is the latest in a growing list of organisations concerned by the role of security agents in human rights violations.

The release of classified documents by WikiLeaks is set to hurt the US foreign relations with developing and developed countries.

WikiLeaks has said it is holding over 250 000 classified documents by the United States embassies across the world.

Released classified cables on Zimbabwe so far include communication by former US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell who described Tsvangirai as a flawed figure who is indecisive and not open to advice.