During the Rhodesian Bush war of the 1960s and 70s, any black person who did not support Mugabeâ€™s terrorists was labelled a â€œselloutâ€, and then tortured, mutilated and often murdered by Mugabeâ€™s so-called â€œfreedom fightersâ€ as an example to others.Â Now I fear that the â€œdealâ€ due to be signed later today in Harare may bring a new meaning to the word â€“ with opposition leader Tsvangirai being forced to disappoint the people of Zimbabwe by â€œselling outâ€ under pressure from the Mugabe/Mbeki axis in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe.Â
Full details of the deal will only be known after formal signing takes place in Harare later today, but the basics are fairly common knowledge (Sunday Times, et al):Â
Mugabe will remain (executive) president of Zimbabwe, and Tsvangirai will become prime minister (a subordinate role in Zimbabweâ€™s constitution).Â
Crucially, the entire military will report to Mugabe, while the smaller and lesser-armed police will report to Tsvangirai.Â Is this a recipe for civil war?Â Only if Tsvangirai is able to remove police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri.Â
Chihuri is one of the all-powerful, six-member Joint Operations Command (JOC).Â This is the military junta that assumed power when Mugabe lost the presidential election to Tsvangirai back in March.Â All the commanders of Zimbabweâ€™s armed forces, including the Chihuri, have openly said that theyâ€™ll never â€œsurrenderâ€ to any authority other than Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Â Chihuri has been particularly vociferous in his condemnation of Tsvangirai and the MDC.Â During the latest elections, he was responsible for the suffering of thousands of opposition activists and supporters.Â Will he accept, or undermine and destroy his new political master?Â
And thereâ€™s no mention yet of who will control Zimbabweâ€™s feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).Â This vast, sinister unit reports to Mugabe and infiltrated every element of Zimbabweâ€™s state institutions to ensure that everyone remained loyal to Zanu-PF.Â With the CIO looking on, will any police officer dare to support Tsvangirai?Â
One small glimmer of possible hope emerged last weekend, when a senior army general and a CIO chief held secret negotiations in South Africa with Mbekiâ€™s people in an effort to secure amnesties from any future prosecution in return for supporting regime change in Zimbabwe.Â
This may mean real change could come out of the deal.Â I hope so, but I cannot see how it will while the military junta remains in being â€“ theyâ€™re the only people who command armed forces.Â They can allow, or block change.Â Theyâ€™re the people most likely to lose out if there is meaningful change.Â I donâ€™t think theyâ€™ll relinquish power.Â
Did the junta allow a deal to be struck because they have run out of money to feed and pay their officers and men?Â Â Do they face ever dwindling numbers to enforce their rule as soldiers and policemen simply desert to try to find food and a living?Â Â
Has Tsvangirai been thrown a temporary olive branch so that he can secure western aid for Zimbabwe without Zanu-PF losing itâ€™s vice grip on Zimbabwe and its vast riches?Â Mugabe and Zanu-PF has track record (The Times, London) in this type of deal when they succeeded in retaining power and western aid for over twenty years after subsuming the last meaningful Zimbabwean opposition party of Joshua Nkomo into its clutches during the 1980s.Â
Tsvangirai hopes for British troops to be sent to Zimbabwe to re-train Zimbabweâ€™s armed forces and â€œrestore the old professional ethic.â€Â This seems to me to be wishful thinking â€“ I fear the whole deal is merely to finance Zanu-PFâ€™s retention of power for a few more yearsâ€¦Â But at least it would temporarily ease the suffering in Zimbabwe.
Author, Peter Davies was a soldier in Rhodesia from 1963 to 1975, where he took part in the capture and interrogation of terrorists. Â His novel, Scatterlings of Africa, is based on his own experience during Rhodesiaâ€™s war on terror, and personal observations of how terrorist activities impacted Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and its people.Â http://www.peterdaviesbooks.com
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