Mugabe rejects MDC Security reforms

PROPOSALS by MDC formations for security sector reforms are "nonsensical" as the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are an exemplary force that has received worldwide acclaim as evidenced by their continued service in UN missions the world over and training of fellow forces within the region, President Robert Mugabe has said.\r\n

In an interview with The Southern Times, on the eve of the Extraordinary Summit of Sadc Heads of State and Government that begins here Friday, President Mugabe said the ZDF had a rich history of fighting for justice.

“It’s nonsense (calls for security sector reform). Our security forces are well-established, they are reputed. Right now as we speak the police force is in countries like Liberia and several other countries under the United Nations (peacekeeping) duties . . .

“If it’s not that reputed, the United Nations would then not insist on sending our people. Almost every year we are asked to give some members who join others from other countries in peacekeeping.”

The calls for security sector reforms, tbhe President said, were motivated by ignorance of the operations of the defence forces.

“Who then would want to reform these forces? If it’s our MDC, they possibly don’t understand how the forces operate and how this type of establishment is organised. I’m Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces; I know how they are organised.”

The President said the ZDF was not a ro-gue unit, but had a clear format that established it and laws that regulated operations.

He traced the ZDF’s origins from the integration of three military wings – Zanla, Zipra and the Rhodesian Front – which they were fighting against, adding he had known some of the officers from their guerilla days in the bush.

“What reform is required? They are a force that has a history, a political history. They have fought colonialism in this country and brought about the independence that we have, the freedom that we have, the multiparty system that we have that never exi-sted before.

“And it is these forces now which have given you the complainant the right to say, ah they must be reformed you could never have said it before in colonial times. So, I don’t know, it’s nonsense. Our security for-ces are well-established, they are reputed,” he said. The ZDF, the President said, had officers keeping the peace in UN missions in Africa and Europe.

The President revealed that the ZDF was actively involved in training other security forces in the region.

“I don’t have to tell you that even within Sadc we are giving assistance right now to quite a number of countries. We are training pilots; the air force is helping those of other countries.”

Instead of maligning the forces, the President said, they needed to be equipped as they were the vanguard of the nation.

“They need to be equipped. Equip them as they are and they will prove to be upholders of our freedom and supporters of freedom and security of the nation. They protect the people, they defend the country and they interact with other security forces around them.”

MDC formations, principally the Mr Morgan Tsvangirai-led side, has been calling for a reform of the security forces claiming they are partisan, that is pro-Zanu-PF, but analysts contend that if the MDC formations have a cause that is not inimical to the national interest they have nothing to fear from the ZDF whose brief is to defend the nation against foes.

Analysts say events in North Africa, where western powers are pummeling Libya with the help of opposition forces are a greater call to shun the proposed reforms.