By Jonathan Moyo
IF there is one clear and present danger now threatening political stability in Zimbabwe, it is that President Robert Mugabe’s succession crisis has become so uncertain and dangerous t
hat it is now in the hands of unaccountable yet politically-ambitious securocrats.
These securocrats — the security apparatus — are working in a manner reminiscent of the callous brutality of their Rhodesian and Gukurahundi predecessors who caused mayhem under the cover of Ian Smith’s state of emergency which was after Independence renewed by Zanu PF until 1990.
The difference between the wicked Rhodesian state of emergency that ended in 1990, after having been extended by Zanu PF to justify the Gukurahundi campaign, and the current one, is that the former was declared and therefore governed by some rules even if they were extremely vicious, while the latter is undeclared and more dangerous because it is not governed by any publicly known rules besides the whims and caprices of the securocrats themselves and those of their president who is now playing dirty politics with the nation.
A rare window into the shocking and totally unacceptable operations of the power-mad securocrats in our midst was opened last week, courtesy of the Herald which was obviously prompted by some beleaguered wordsmith in officialdom.
The revealing article ran 13 controversial paragraphs detailing the clearest confirmation that the dastardly Operation Murambatsvina, which destroyed the homes and livelihoods of 18% of the population, was hastily planned and implemented by some panicky and overzealous elements of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).
What was even more dramatic about this confirmation is the disclosure that the operation was exclusively approved by President Mugabe without regard to the constitutional rights of the targeted innocent victims and the knowledge or involvement of other constitutional bodies and processes — including the cabinet.
The confirmation by the Herald made it crystal clear that our body politic once again is being run by some very ambitious and dangerous securocrats who have steadily exploited President Mugabe’s record of governing under a brutal state of emergency, as he did during the first 10 years of our Independence, not only to take over civilian governance as is constitutionally defined, but to also take over the running of Zanu PF, which left on its own, has become a dead duck.
In political terms, Zanu PF and President Mugabe are today singing from the hymn book of securocrats. In fact, Zanu PF and CIO structures have become one and the same thing, and this largely explains why democracy has become an impossible proposition within the ruling party because it has given way to securocracy. That’s what happens in sunset politics in authoritarian states.
Even the ever-dithering and politically-impotent official opposition — the MDC — is showing all signs of a party that has been heavily infiltrated by the same securocrats.
One tragedy from this backward development is that we now have security chiefs who cannot tell the difference between President Mugabe’s political interests as a politician, Zanu PF party interests and the national interest of all Zimbabweans.
This conflation of interests by misguided securocrats has become a fertile ground for unprecedented national conflict with trappings of ominous bloodshed.
Although (editor) Baffour Ankomah imagined that his story, republished by the Herald last week, was given to him by President Mugabe’s wordsmith as a scoop to be revealed by New African magazine, the fact is that the information about how Operation Murambatsvina was planned, and by whom, and for what reason, was already public knowledge in Zimbabwe.
What remained was corroboration of the information by sources closer to officialdom.
And when it comes to such sensitive matters involving the securocrats, you cannot get a better confirmation than from the good old Herald. Anyone who knows anything useful about media politics in Zimbabwe will tell you that there is no way in heaven the Herald would publish such a telling article that was not only damning, but also revealing in that it confirmed the truth about a government now run by panicky securocrats and a hostage president.
It is very dangerous to have a president who is a prisoner of securocrats because he does not only lose his executive powers to them, but is also often prompted to act in the narrow interests of his security apparatus without properly measuring the political consequences of his decisions.
The Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina episodes are classic examples of what happens when securocrats are in charge.
The unassailable facts confirmed by the Herald with the support of those who pushed for the article to be run are that Operation Murambatsvina had nothing to do with the habitat niceties of cleaning slums out of Zimbabwean cities.
We now all know Murambatsvina was a security operation whose
Gukurahundi-like objective had everything to do with demolishing the homes and livelihoods of slum dwellers and informal sector traders who make up 18% of our population, so as to disperse them in order to render them politically-impotent.
There is no amount of self-righteous pontification by Mugabe’s British-trained and managed wordsmiths that can obfuscate these facts anymore.
Another trick from the wordsmiths that has fallen flat is their absurd attempt to deflect attention away from the disastrous consequences of Murambatsvina through outlandish claims about the fiction called Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle which does not have even one satisfied housing beneficiary.
What is worse about the nonsense around this fiction is that, like Murambatsvina, Garikai/Hlalani is also run by securocrats, some of them in military uniform.
Given that where there is no vision the people perish, the implications of the dramatic takeover of national politics and civic works by wayward securocrats are so staggering that if nothing decisive is done, and done now by the people of Zimbabwe to put a stop and reverse the situation, then we are headed for conflict on a scale never before witnessed in this country.
Mugabe and his securocrats will bear responsibility for whatever happens because they are currently busy mobilising anger against themselves and instigating instability through repressive measures.
They must remember that when that happens they will also be entangled and may not come out clean. They have to learn lessons from what is happening around the world, otherwise they might spend the rest of their lives on the run, afraid of incurring the people’s wrath as a result of the consequences of their excesses and the inevitable need for them to be held accountable for their actions.
The Herald confirmation that Operation Murambatsvina was the brainchild of alarmed CIO elements who hastily implemented it outside the confines of constitutional governance, clearly means that Zimbabwean laws, including the constitution itself, were violated. This alone warrants an independent judicial inquiry.
Besides such an inquiry or regardless of its findings, there is a prima facie case that President Mugabe once again did not uphold the oath of his office by acting in a unilateral manner whose consequence was to render destitute some 2,5 million Zimbabweans.
On this sad score, President Mugabe does not have moral and political legitimacy to remain in office. He can remain there only as a hostage of the very same securocrats who have become public enemies of the people but that will only help prompt instability which is looming large in Zimbabwe and raise the urgent need to take steps to avert it.
We have seen that elsewhere around the world, including in Iraq of all places, security officials who become a law unto themselves by abusing prisoners or terrorising civilians are legally liable to disciplinary action and prosecution while victims are compensated. Why not in Zimbabwe?
Did Zimbabweans give their sacrifices during the liberation war so that President Mugabe and his securocrats can use the cover of Zanu PF to terrorise the population into permanent docility even when 18% of the population has its homes and livelihoods illegally destroyed by the government whose first duty should be to protect life and property?
Surely, in any constitutional democracy, the people have an inalienable right to rise up against an evil government acting against state interests. There is a difference of night and day between rising up against a wicked government of the day ruling against the interests of the people and rising up against the state.
Despite its pretensions fuelled by politically-corrupt securocrats, Zanu PF is not the state and the state is not Zanu PF. That’s very clear.
The state is the people and the people cannot rise up against themselves. The time has come for these distinctions to be understood and made. There is need for action to be taken to nip the impunity of securocrats and their political hostages in the bud.
One major reason why the securocrats had no qualms at all about Operation Murambatsvina is precisely because of the impunity from the Gukurahundi precedent which is at work here. The fact that nobody was held liable for the Gukurahundi massacres of over 20 000 people and for the destruction of homes and livelihoods of more than 25% of the population means that as a nation we remain at risk of similar or worse atrocities committed by panicky securocrats in cahoots with an aloof and unaccountable president. We must never allow this sort of thing to happen again.
In this regard, the planning and execution of Operation Murambatsvina by securocrats with the approval of President Mugabe in the manner they did, serves as a rude wake-up call to Zimbabweans that the Gukurahundi mentality of government-engineered and led atrocities is still pervasive among some security elements who have learnt nothing from our dark past and who are now taking advantage of the collapse of the Zanu PF commissariat, President Mugabe’s undemocratic nature and the impotence of the official opposition, to implement an undeclared state of emergency.
It is no wonder that these apprehensive securocrats known to conjure up hasty operations with nefarious objectives are now proposing to postpone the presidential election until 2010.
They are also pushing for a law- and-order approach to monetary policy while seeking to control and run the public and private media — including the Zanu PF official mouthpiece.
These sinister agendas of the securocrats are only surpassed by their own breathtaking incompetence which guarantees that they will always want to come up with wicked operations either to deal with people merely holding different political views, as in the case of Gukurahundi, or to criminalise poverty, as in Murambatsvina’s case, which they are largely responsible for creating through their leadership and policy failures.
The sooner Zimbabweans understand this and do something big to stop it once and for all, the better for posterity and the prosperity of our republic.
* Professor Jonathan Moyo is independent MP for Tsholotsho.