Tsvangirai reaches out to war veterans and security chiefs

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says he is ready to engage the country's security chiefs and war veterans to address their fears and concerns as a way of bringing an end to the country's long-drawn-out crisis.

The security chiefs, made up of the army, police, secret service and air force, have in the past vowed that they will not recognise anyone who does not have a liberation war history as the country’s president.

\r\n

The role of the security sector in the country’s politics is one of the remaining sticking points in the country’s negotiations towards an electoral road map and analysts believe it is a delicate issue which needs to be handled carefully if the country is to have a soft landing from the current crisis.

\r\n

Tsvangirai said he is open to dialogue on the issue.

\r\n

“How do you address the concerns of the victims of violence but at the same time address the fears of the perpetrators? You have to balance the two. If you only want to look at the victims and say we are going to address the concerns of the victims and you ignore the fears of the perpetrators of that violence, you will not have a solution to the crisis or a soft landing out of it,” said Tsvangirai while addressing a public meeting on Thursday in Harare.

\r\n

“At this stage we have to have an accommodation mentality of both the concerns of the victims and fears of the perpetrators.”

\r\n

Analysts believe securocrats, who are blamed for fanning political violence, are reluctant to have a new person in the seat of power because of growing fears of being arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice in The Hague.

\r\n

Recent examples of officials in the Kenyan government who have been taken before the court have increased the fears.

\r\n

In a sign that he was preparing to reach out to veterans of the country’s liberation war, Tsvangirai said: “Like all nations which respect veterans, they must do everything to make sure they don’t suffer the indignities that go with liberating this country for the second time.

\r\n

“It is very important to look after veterans for the sake of the future. We owe it to those who are still alive, we must provide them with the necessary support.”

\r\n

Tsvangirai said if his party forms the next government, he will ensure that no one harbours feelings of revenge for past misdeeds.

\r\n

“We are grappling with so many traumas, our liberation struggle was not easy. We went through that trauma – Gukurahundi was not easy, the Murambatsvina was not easy, and the violence against the opposition political parties was not easy. In finding a solution to that trauma we need balance,” Tsvangirai said.

\r\n

“You cannot have balance as a nation if we say an eye for an eye. If we do that, we will all be blind.”

\r\n

Tsvangirai also said it is impossible for the country to have elections this year, describing fresh talks of an early election by Zanu-PF as “misguided” and “senseless”. He emphasised that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) cannot last beyond 2013.

\r\n

He said the country can only have elections after the conclusion of the country’s road map, which is currently under discussion among the negotiators of the country’s three main political parties.

\r\n

He said it is crucial that the constitutional process be concluded and a referendum be held after which a reasonable amount of time should be given to allow the new constitution to take effect.

\r\n

“There is no time frame for elections and no specific date and it will be impossible for anyone to say by August so and so we will have elections,” Tsvangirai said.

\r\n

“The only possible time frame to set for an election is 2012 and I am being optimistic about that.” – TimesLive