'Chihuri must go' – MDC

HARARE – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has demanded the removal of security chiefs, notably police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri and army commander Constantine Chiwenga, before the country’s next elections.

The Daily News is in possession of the MDC’s position paper, which is being pushed through the Sadc-led negotiations – and highlights how Chihuri and Chiwenga’s continued stay would undermine both the credibility of future elections as well as the country’s stability.

The reform of the security sector is one of the key outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).  It has stalled further progress in the bedding down of an election roadmap, with President Robert Mugabe describing demands for changes within the security sector as “nonsensical”.

Tsvangirai and political analysts say securocrats are the real power behind Mugabe and Zanu PF – hence the refusal by the Zanu PF leader to reform the sector.

In the meantime, Sadc appointed mediator, South African President Jacob Zuma is pressuring GPA negotiators to expedite and conclude their talks on an election roadmap that would usher in the much anticipated elections.

“The current leadership in the security sector has in the past shown that they are partisan. In our view, the best way to realign the security sector is to retire at the very minimum the Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri and the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) General Constantine Chiwenga,” the MDC’s policy document states.

Alternatively, Tsvangirai’s party demands, the security chiefs should, at the very minimum, issue a public statement unequivocally stating that they would uphold the constitution and support the will of the people if they were to remain in their positions.

Tsvangirai also wants to receive full security briefs, similar to those given to Mugabe regularly by security chiefs – if confidence in the security sector was to be engendered across political divides.

The MDC says its demand for security sector reforms, contained in its 10-page document, is in reaction to the security chiefs’ previous actions, which allegedly include leading “an orgy of violence” against MDC supporters.

Security chiefs have in the past publicly stated that they are unwilling to salute or take instruction anyone other than Mugabe and other Zanu PF leaders. Chihuri has also publicly and controversially stated his allegiance to Zanu PF on several occasions. – Daily News

The MDC position paper also demands the retirement of other perceived Zanu PF functionaries such as Attorney General (AG) Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono.

In addition, the premier’s party wants ministers responsible for the security portfolios, such as defence, home affairs, state security and justice, to report to Tsvangirai’s office at policy implementation and supervisory levels.

“Put simply, the story of Gbagbo  and Ivory Coast must be avoided,” the document states – a reference to the bloody civil war that eventually ousted Ivory Coast dictator Laurent Gbabgo who, with the help of the army had refused to accept electoral defeat.

The party is pushing for the enactment of a legal framework to regulate the activities of the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), which for long has been accused of abducting, maiming and harassing Mugabe’s political opponents.

“The existence and operations of the CIO must be regulated by an Act of Parliament which should be enacted before the next elections,” the document says.

Sources close to the country’s inter-party negotiations the Daily News yesterday that Zanu PF had since thrown the ball back into the MDC court by asking it to draft a Bill to regulate the operations of the CIO.

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC spokesperson, confirmed the development, saying: “The security sector is a hot issue, but there were a few concessions. The MDC was asked to table a Bill to govern the security sector particularly the CIO. Zanu PF says it does not know how to regulate the activities of the CIO”.

The MDC also proposes that the police service, defence and Mariyawanda Nzuwa’s Public Service Commission be accountable to parliament, and to the president, Tsvangirai and Cabinet, particularly on policy issues such as recruitment and purchase of arms.

The party also wants a comprehensive amendment of the Electoral Act.