Tracing history of security sector reforms: Part One

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THE drive to reform Zimbabwe’s security sector constitutes a whole discourse whose study is critical to the preservation of the country’s sovereignty.
Curiously, though, the call is not internal, but originated with our erstwhile coloniser, Britain, supported by her racist allies, the EU, USA, Canada and Australia.
The argument is that there is need to reform Zimbabwe’s security sector into a non-political professional sector.
It is a coalition of these supposedly ‘professional forces’ that has reduced both the infrastructure and peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to rubble.
It is, however, important to acknowledge that the concept of security sector reform is not new to Zimbabwe.
It has been a characteristic feature of the country’s political landscape, albeit, so subtle that few scholars, if any, have ever viewed them as such.
Each struggle against Western domination has had an associated security sector reform agenda designed to weaken or subvert Africans who must defend African interests to instead defend white settler interests.
That the Western-sponsored Zimbabwe Peace and Security Programme (that is calling for security sector reform) should be manned by ‘accomplished’ academics and researchers from the country’s 13 universities is clearly a tragic omen for Zimbabwe because it indicates how our ‘accomplished’ African academics and researchers have not appreciated the need to define African needs and terms of reference from our own African historical experience.
They have not used the African colonial experience to interrogate the kind of security sector reforms and professionalism their European sponsors instituted in former colonies in order to optimise the exploitation of their colonial subjects.
Security sector reform permutations in the history of Zimbabwe
It is obvious and very sad that our ‘accomplished’ African academics and researchers have not seen security sector reform permutations in the Portuguese dealings with the Mwenemutapas, the British Moffat Treaty, the Rudd Concession, the Mashonaland/Matabeleland Native Police, the Rhodesian African Rifles, the Selous Scouts, Curfew, Call-ups and Martial Law, right down to British Military Advisory Teams and British military assistance in the form of aircraft and relevant spares that could be withdrawn at critical moments to sabotage the defence of African sovereignty.
Genuine research by our ‘accomplished’ African academics and researchers manning the Zimbabwe Peace and Security Education and Training Network (ZIPSET) would indisputably show that the initial Portuguese entry into Zimbabwe’s political arena during the Mwenemutapa Empire was through a security sector reform process that armed the Zimbabweans of that time with Portuguese arms not necessarily to defend their sovereignty, but to defend Portuguese Prazos or Crown Estates that were in essence extensions of mainland Portugal.
Luckily the security sector reform process backfired when Changamire Dombo defeated both the Portuguese and their sponsored puppets and established the Changamire Empire.
The Portuguese attempted a security sector reform comeback in the run-up to the Berlin conference where European powers would partition Africa in the absence of Africans.
They armed Shona paramount chiefs to stop the Boer and British northward expansion across the Limpopo.
The initiative was, of course, not so that the Shona would remain independent, but so that they would in time become Portuguese colonial subjects.
The design was that in fighting the British, the reformed African security sector would in reality be fighting for Portugal.  
But they were wrong.
The British responded through the Moffat Treaty signed by Lobengula to put  Zimbabwe under the British Sphere of influence; a practice agreed to by European colonial powers at the Berlin Conference.
The Rudd Concession was a perfect sequel to the Moffat Treaty and the terms translated to some kind of security sector reform.
For ceding all Zimbabwean mineral rights to the BSAC and promising not to deal with the Portuguese, Lobengula was promised 1 000 rifles, 100 000 rounds of ammunition, a gunboat and £100 per month.
Through the concession, the Ndebele security sector was duped not to accept Portuguese arms that would have left them strong and in a position to resist the British invasion of Matabeleland that was already in the offing.
The Ndebele defeat by Mazorodze in 1879 and by Mashayamombe in 1886 and 1888 had both been courtesy of Portuguese arms and therefore proof of what would have faced the British invaders in 1893.
It is needless to say that no arms were delivered to Lobengula under the Rudd Concession and consequently, the 1893 British conquest of Matabeleland turned to a walk in the park.
Curiously, before the invasion of Matabeleland, Jameson had trained over 500 security personnel from various chiefdoms around Fort Victoria.
The training coincided with the final planning of the invasion and it has led historians to surmise that the Matabele Impi that raided Fort Victoria and provided a British ‘humanitarian’ excuse to invade Matabeleland purportedly to protect Shona victims was actually staged by Jameson.
In retrospect, it was a terribly inhuman arrangement.
In the period between occupation of Mashonaland and the invasion of Matabeleland, the 1 000 strong BSAP and the Pioneer settlers who had brought with them only a handful of their own women had not been celibate, but indiscriminately raped Shona women.  
Then the ‘staged’ raid involved massacre of the same defiled Shona women and children to callously provide an excuse for an even worse massacre of the Ndebele.
The conquest of Matabeleland, of course, witnessed further security sector reforms. Elements of the defeated Ndebele regiments were ‘reformed’ into the Matabeleland Native Police whose members oppressed their own kind in exclusive protection of white settler interests.
The African scholars who are being used to champion security sector reforms will do well to remember that one of the causes of the First Chimurenga was the cruelty of the Native Police.  
It is however critical to mention that in Mashonaland, the Native Police security sector reform backfired when one unit under Mhasvi turned against the white settler masters, captured Pollard, (the Bully, Native Commissioner of Mazowe) and handed him over to Nehanda who subsequently sentenced him to death.
The end of the First Chimurenga saw worse security sector reforms in Matabeleland.
Regimental commanders who negotiated peace with Rhodes were put on colonial payroll and made Head Indunas of the various districts to supervise the oppression of their own kind under the BSAC.
And when Rhodes died, they gave him a salute only reserved for Ndebele royalty. And Rhodes’s brother, Frank, charged the ‘reformed’ Ndebele security sector and their descendents to look after the murderous homosexual’s grave and not the grave of their own ancestor, Mzilikazi.
In time, the African security sector that was supposed to defend African interests was ‘reformed’ to defend British interests even with their lives.
In Europe’s First and Second World Wars, that ‘reformed’ African security sector joined their British oppressors in the song ‘God serve the Queen’ and they died to keep the British Empire of enslaved people intact.
And after those European World wars the surviving elements of the ‘reformed’ African security sector were given bicycles to cycle to barren ‘native reserves’ while their British comrades-in-arms were given massive tracts of the fertile African motherland.
And, during the Second Chimurenga, the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) constituted a critical Rhodesian security sector reform.
They were black.
They constituted the majority of the Rhodesian Army fighting to preserve exclusive white privilege.
They were recruited from among the oppressed and they were recruited specifically for their intimate knowledge of their own kind and the idea was to optimise exploitation of the same.
Next week, we shall look at security sector reform in the context of the Selous Scouts.

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