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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Service chiefs have boycotted yet another scheduled meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), highlighting the contempt of army generals for the Prime Minister. Last Friday's meeting of the NSC failed to take place after flimsy excuses from the generals.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was expected to sit down with the recalcitrant army generals but this has failed to take place on several occasions since the National Security Council Bill was passed on February 10. The NSC was created to replace the shadowy junta body, the Joint Operations Command (JOC). They were supposed to hold one meeting a month, but there has been fierce resistance against the make-up of the NSC from the service chiefs. They see the establishment of the new security think-tank as stripping them of their power.

Tsvangirai’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but a senior official in the PM's Office said: "It shows shocking contempt for the GNU." Tsvangirai told a news conference in June: "We have to regularise the meeting of the National Security Council." But still nothing has changed. Tsvangirai's deputy, Thoko Khupe, told a news conference that "securocrats" were in denial over the circumstances in the country and were refusing to accept the new order.

The NSC consists of President Mugabe as chairperson and his two deputies, Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika, Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his deputies Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the two Home Affairs Ministers Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi.

Within the Council, service chiefs are relegated to the role of ex-officio members. According to sources, this has heightened tensions in the inclusive government. Officials said the latest boycott by the service chiefs of the NSC meeting signalled their on-going determination to scuttle the GNU. Security forces have long been accused of partisanship, and senior government officials told The Zimbabwean that the Council would have the de-politicisation of the security forces into professional service forces high on its agenda.

The legislation establishing the Council was drafted by the MDC. It was set up to receive and consider national security reports and give direction on how the country's security forces work. However, officials were quick to clarify that the creation of the NSC did not mean the disbanding of JOC. The power-sharing agreement is unfortunately silent about the dissolution of JOC.

Top government officials said the service chiefs and the President had continued to hold JOC meetings behind closed doors.

Source:The New African Times

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