"Hands Off My Soldiers" - Mugabe
Members of the ZANU PF Women's League chant and shout during the closing ceremony for their party's Congress yesterday (Saturday 12 December 2009) at the Harare International Conference Centre at Rainbow Towers Hotel. Mugabe used the occasion to dismiss Tsvangirai's calls for the reform of the Security Services, who remain the bedrock of his continued rule of Zimbabwe, using force and intimidation to ensure that Mugabe stays where he is and that Tsvangirai is kept out of the Presidential Office at Munhumutapa Building.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 December 2009
Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, yesterday dismissed Morgan Tsvangirai's calls for the reform of the Security Services in Zimbabwe, saying this was what the British and "imperialists" wanted. He sees the call by the MDC as simply an amplification of the voice of the British.
“Zipra and Zanla forces constituted the basis of our national army and air force,” he said Mugabe, adding: “That is the most dependable force and it shall not be tampered with. The enemy wants to see it disintegrated, but any tactics to tamper with it will never be tolerated.”
This statement comes more than two months after Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader and Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, publicly called for the reform of the Security sector in Zimbabwe. When he "disengaged" from ZANU PF in October, he bemoaned the fact that the National Security Council, which was supposed to have replaced the Joint Operations Command, had met only once. The Joint Operations Command itself (JOC), Tsvangirai confirmed, was still meeting, "as if it was business as usual."
The admission by Tsvangirai came almost three months after I broke the story on this blog that JOC was still active and that the National Security Council was all but disbanded. Tsvangirai supporters accused of lying back then and said I was against the "progress" that could be seen as Generals "saluted Tsvangirai". This despite the fact that Generals themselves have come out to say that they never saluted the Prime Minister.
Mugabe is still of the opinion that the MDC and "its sponsors- the British and Americans" want to destroy liberation movements that are now running Southern African countries. This forms the basis of his alliance with the ANC of South Africa (which sent a delegation and message of solidarity to the ZANU PF Congress), FRELIMO of Mozambique, MPLA of Angola and SWAPO in Namibia.
He has been telling these parties that if Britain and the West succeed in dislodging ZANU PF from power, then the ANC and all the other liberation movements will be next. This line has been taken very seriously by such people as South African Minister and former ANC Youth League President Julius Malema.
Mugabe has also retained the loyalty of the armed forces in Zimbabwe by telling that the British and the Americans and other western countries would like to get rid of all former ZIPRA and ZANLA fighters from the armed forces in order to pave the way for the reversal of the "gains of independence", such as Land reform.
The party Conference, which was closed by Mugabe yesterday during this speech, was also told that ZANU PF has managed to get US$10 million in donations , which will be used to strengthen structures (and spread patronage). This is apart from a share of the US$4 million that Finance Minister Tendai Biti allocated to the parties represented in parliament, including Arthur Mutambara's MDC.
In the final analysis, the armed forces remain the bedrock of Mugabe's continued rule in Zimbabwe. Even Morgan Tsvangirai recognises and realises this, despite his supporters telling us earlier this year from their London homes that the police and soldiers were now firmly in support of Tsvangirai. The actions of normal, rank and file soldiers, who are still beating up anyone found playing anti-Mugabe songs, betrays the fact that these MDC supporters believe what they want to believe, regardless of the facts on the ground.
AS I write, MDC-Tsvangirai office holders in the rural areas are living in fear because soldiers have teamed up with ZANU PF youths and are going around the countryside telling villagers that the next elections will see them get bullets to the head instead of beatings on the buttocks if they so much as considered voting for the MDC and Morgan Tsvangirai.
Some MDC-T officials have since fled to Harare, where they are housed in Safe Houses dotted around the capital.
It means there is no one campaigning or mobilising the people for Tsvangirai in the rural areas, again betraying the lies we were told by MDC supporters in March/April this year that their party was now holding wildly successful rallies in ZANU PF stronghold like Uzumba and Maramba Pfungwe on the border with Mozambique.
The soldiers and the youths who are terrorising villagers are armed and these arms are dished out by ZANU PF from their cache from the Liberation War, which is kept at Zimbabwe House, Mugabe's official residence, which he does not live in anymore.