By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
READERS of The Patriot and other papers in Zimbabwe cannot fail to notice that what representatives of the MDC formations have been telling the US Congress and the US State Department about the role of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in governance is clearly contradicted by the reality back home.
The picture these MDC representatives have been presenting in the US is meant to affirm and advance the caricature of the ZDF’s role created by the 2007 US recipe for illegal regime change in Zimbabwe called Operation Shumba.
Operation Shumba in 2007 assumed and alleged that:
– “The liberation movement in ZANU PF would be split between a faction which would cooperate with the MDC formations and the US in ending the Chimurenga legacy in Zimbabwe by all means necessary.
– The ZDF would also split on lines similar to those among the alleged ZANU PF political factions.
– The side of the ZDF wishing to retain and advance Chimurenga legacy would be allied with a core group in the liberation movement ZANU PF which the US document called the Fourth Chimurenga Movement (FCM) and said was likely to be led by now President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.
– After a successful Western military intervention, the entire Fourth Chimurenga Movement and the portion of the ZDF allied with it would be treated as insurgents or dissidents by the US and its desired puppet interim government of Zimbabwe.
– The remaining portion of ZDF surrendering to foreign forces would then have to be retrained by the intervening forces because, according to Operation Shumba: “Zimbabwe’s security forces have a legacy of brutality and oppression.”
Contrary to the far-fetched scenarios in the US document, the real-world meaning of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ and what happened on the ground in Zimbabwe before, during and after November 18 2017, can be summarised as follows:
– The Defence Forces’ intervention to protect the constitutional order which was code-named ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ did not only lead to the collapse of the bizarre political experiment and formation called G40; it also made imperative the need for an African indigenous interpretation of theories, concepts and assumptions which had dominated the media, academic institutions and university and college departments in Zimbabwe since the 1990s and which had become part and parcel of current affairs discourse and contemporary history teaching.
The most obvious theories, concepts, and assumptions had to do with three subjects, all of which have been affected by ‘Operation Restore Legacy’.
The first subject is what has been called security sector reforms.
The basic assumptions behind the security sector reforms demand and movement which have been proven false in Zimbabwe now can be read from the African Union’s policy document which says:
“Security Sector Reform refers to the process by which countries formulate or re-orient the polices, structures, and capabilities of institutions and groups engaged in the security sector, in order to make them more effective, efficient, and responsive to democratic control, and to the security and justice needs of the people.”
‘Democratic control’ was coded language for ‘civil society control’.
This definition assumed that all the security organs in Zimbabwe were alien or alienated from the communities they were supposed to protect and therefore needed a donor-funded programme of reform to bring them closer to the people and more responsive to the people’s needs.
When one read the whole AU draft, it became clear that there was an underlying assumption that some donor-funded agency would be required to come from outside and serve as a go-between, bringing security forces closer to the people.
Therefore the endless attacks on the ZDF by leaders of the MDC formations since 2001 were directly linked to neoliberal hostility against the history and legacy of Chimurenga.
Anyone with a deep and mature understanding of the history of this country is likely to see through the basic assumptions.
For a long time, the assumption in civil society and in opposition circles was that major changes in Zimbabwe would come from elsewhere and would be resisted by the entire security sector.
Hence the rush by MDC Alliance leaders to Washington DC, US, in the wake of ‘Operation Restore Legacy’.
Contrary to these assumptions, the High Court of Zimbabwe ruled in November 2017 that ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ was justified and carried out within the law which in Section 206, Sub-Section (2) of the Constitution says: “The National Security of Zimbabwe must be secured in compliance with this constitution and the law.”
In other words, contrary to neoliberal reform theory, in the case of Zimbabwe it is the ZDF which has been close to communities; it is the ZDF which helped civil society and the legislature to protect the Constitution and restore democracy which was being eroded in the name of so-called youthful ‘reform’ led by G40 and the MDC formations.
The second subject concerned foreign-driven theories, concepts and assumptions about gender, gender balance, women’s representation and women’s leadership, as if African society and the liberation movement did not have their own ideas and programmes.
The collapse of the G40 formation seems to suggest that it is wrong to equate gender with women; that women in so-called decision-making positions many times do not always hold those positions on behalf of women or all women and do not usually make those decisions in the interest of women in general or any women at all; that often the elevated women, once so elevated, can be the most violent and most vicious in attacking and destroying other women to secure their posts and to maintain them; and that, at least in the case of G40 and the ZANU PF Women’s League under Grace Mugabe, the elevation of women and the attempt to substitute the Women’s League and Youth League for the main mass party had the effect of tarnishing women as leaders and setting back progress which the mass party had made since the 1970s in promoting the participation of women in leadership.
This conclusion seems to be borne out by Mai Mugabe’s vicious attacks on Sarah Mahoka, on Eunice Sandi Moyo and many other women.
Even more astounding is wide-spread perception that the women in ZANU PF Women’s League under Mai Mugabe’s leadership became afraid of voicing their objections to her conduct as Secretary for Women’s Affairs.
The women were given back their voices by ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ without any discrimination.
Contrary to this history, attacks on our war veterans and on the ZDF go back many years.
Zimbabweans woke up to the revelation on May 31 2012 that during one of his European trips, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai met secretly with the former commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) forces, General Wesley Clark.
NATO is responsible for the recent destruction and occupation of Libya.
Clark is a US citizen and one of the white North American recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University.
As such, General Clark would not only be interested in the fate and wealth of Southern Africa but also in the prime US military project on the African continent known as African Command (Africom).
Tsvangirai and the MDC formations admire white war veterans and white war heroes abroad while engaging in a vicious campaign of vilification and scandalisation against our war heroes and war veterans at home.
And this is the role the North Americans and their European cousins want the MDC leaders and the media outlets which the West sponsor here to play.
This role is therefore consistent with what the MDC Alliance’s delegation to Washington in December 2017 has been saying not only now but for a long time in the past.
Take for example an article in one of the ‘private’ dailies in 2012. One article by a Tangai Chipangura was titled: ‘Armed political animals represent terror, plunder Cde Chedondo’.
This was an attack on the Chief of Staff of
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the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Major General Martin Chedondo for stating the commonsensical view that the security forces of Zimbabwe defend the national interest and uphold the national constitutional order by discouraging treason and repelling foreign aggression.
On the cover of the same paper, the lead story was ‘Army raises eyebrows’, instead of ‘Army warns against treason and foreign aggression’.
In a similar manner, another paper in May 2012 deliberately misrepresented the view of the then Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, with its front page story called ‘Generals can meddle in politics: Chinamasa’.
Not to be out-done, another one came out with ‘CIO, Army battle ZANU PF big wigs’.
The bigger paradox, however, has to do with the message which the MDC formations and their allies in the sponsored press and the sponsored NGO sector have constantly sent to Britain, Europe, Australia and the US, against the actual relationships which exist between Zimbabwe’s security forces and the majority of the outside world.
Zimbabwe’s security forces are constantly on demand for peacekeeping missions all over the world, because they have developed and sustained a proven record and reputation for discipline, professionalism, competence and accountability.
Yet the image which the MDC formations and their allies among sponsored NGOs and sponsored journalists constantly convey is that these forces are ‘armed political animals’ who should be disbanded and reconstructed with the help of outsiders.
As a result of this ‘criminalisation’ of the security forces, the MDC formations and their allies have gone on to make demands which amount to saying that anyone associated with the security forces and war veterans must cease to be a citizen of this country and cannot enjoy the same opportunities and privileges enjoyed by citizens, whether that individual man or woman is still active in the security services or has long retired.
The following examples of such demands and claims come to mind:
– Individual soldiers, police officers or war veterans were not supposed to be involved in the Constitution making process and one of them was publicly expelled by COPAC, with great cheers from the MDC formations and their media and NGO allies.
– Individual soldiers, police officers or war veterans were not supposed to be appointed to boards of parastatls or companies because such boards would lose their ‘independence’ as a result.
– Individual soldiers, police officers and war veterans could not be accepted as academics, lecturers, scientists, engineers and doctors, otherwise the institutions so associated with their professional contributions would be condemned as ‘militarised’.
Now, if one turns to Operation Shumba, the 2007 Pentagon document commissioned by the Bush administration, one discovers that the demand to remove legitimacy from Zimbabwe’s security sector is an imperialist demand.
On page 44 we find this passage:
“Zimbabwe’s security forces have a legacy of brutality and oppression. Some of the most brutal elements of the Mugabe era military currently belong to the FCM.”
What the Pentagon advised George W. Bush in 2007 was that, even if (former) President Robert Mugabe were to be removed ahead of a Western-sponsored invasion and a Western-instigated rebellion, the majority of the members of all the security forces combined would rally around Mugabe’s legacy and form a Fourth Chimurenga Movement (FCM) which would mobilise the population in order to defeat internal treachery and repel external aggression.
The only way a post-Mugabe Western invasion and regime change would succeed was if the entrenched historical legitimacy and popularity of the war veterans and the ZDF could be destroyed.
It would appear that despite the contrary evidence from Operation Restore Legacy, the MDC Alliance is still pursuing that interpretation and its consequent imperialist agenda.