Securocrats get safe passage
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF has given a smooth passage for securocrats and other civil servants keen to stand on the party ticket in the forthcoming elections.
While the fate of these two groups is seemingly secure following the passing of the party’s primary elections guidelines which exempt them from having actively been in Zanu PF for five years, young Turks seeking a change of guard have been left in the cold.
Last week, Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa appeared to seal the fate of the so-called young Turks when he said there was no special provision for them because Zimbabwe “is not Turkey”.
But securocrats and civil servants have part of their work done.
Analysts say Zanu PF’s primary election guidelines are specially streamlined to appease service chiefs and senior civil servants who have worked hard to ensure Mugabe keeps hold on power notwithstanding his March 2008 defeat to MDC leader and now Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Philip Pasirayi, a political analyst with the Centre for Community Development, said government service is dominated by Zanu PF officials in senior positions.
“The reason why civil society has been complaining about the conduct of public officials is that they have not been performing a public role but a partisan one. They are pursuing a Zanu PF agenda,” Pasirayi said.
“In the security sector, police and soldiers have executed their role in a partisan manner and they have acted as if they were Zanu PF commissars,” Pasirayi said.
Of late, service chiefs, who include Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, prisons boss Paradzai Zimondi, who is a retired military major general and police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri have been pontificating about their unwavering support for Mugabe.
And their statements have not gone unnoticed in official corridors.
Speaking to over a hundred bishops of the Apostolic Church at Zanu PF headquarters on Friday, the party’s political commissar Webster Shamu said the guerrilla movement will not abandon these men in uniform.
“We would like to thank the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Constantine Chiwenga, Commissioner of Prisons Paradzai Zimondi and police commissioner Augustine Chihuri for making clear their position that they will not work with anyone who is out to auction this country,” Shamu said.
“I want to repeat that this country came about through the barrel of the gun it cannot be taken by a pen, never, never, you can forget,” Shamu said to rapturous applause from the men of cloth.
According to party guidelines, securocrats and civil servants will be exempt from the requirement that has to be actively serving the party.
Analysts such as Pedzisai Ruhanya, director of the political think tank Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, said the guidelines are a “confirmation that Zanu PF has critical features that are in government and run State institutions who must be accommodated in the forthcoming elections”.
“Naturally, because of their work, civil servants would not fit into the party’s five-year membership requirnement and this is meant to accommodate serving and recently retired members of the security sector,” said Ruhanya.
He said this is now a moment of truth for securocrats and civil servants linked to Zanu PF to show their true colours by either joining politics or staying in the public service.
“Over the years Zanu PF has infiltrated the public sector, appointments have been on the basis of patronage. They are in office to serve Zanu PF. But now they have to choose,” said Ruhanya.
Pasirayi said this showed Zanu PF’s hypocrisy.
“Zanu PF was part of the constitution-making process and it was agreed that civil servants are not supposed to partake in partisan politics. These people have been exposed by the new draft constitution. It is payback to Zanu PF and a realisation that Zanu PF cannot hide anymore. These people are now being asked to decide whether they are Zanu PF or civil servants,” said Pasirayi.
Some, such as police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka continue carrying out official duties despite actively campaigning to be Zanu PF candidates.
Ruhanya says these securocrats are likely to be imposed ahead of popular grassroots party activists.
“Zanu PF is likely to end up with unpopular candidates as candidates will not be coming from the grassroots and that candidate will not win. Zanu PF is digging its grave unless if it wants to run a military poll as happened in 2008,” said Ruhanya.