By Fortune Tazvida
HARARE- They have ordered abductions, torture, rape and murder to keep President Robert Mugabe in power even after he lost presidential elections in March 2008. So it came as no surprise this week that Mugabe defied Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to extend the terms of office of all his service chiefs.
Mugabe’s acid tongued spokesman George Charamba announced through the Zanu PF controlled Herald newspaper that Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri’s term of office has been extended to 2014. Chihuri’s contract expired on the 31st of January this year and the two MDC formations in the coalition government were demanding a neutral personality to take over.
On Wednesday Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara agreed to declare the position vacant after a two and a half hour meeting at State House. They also agreed that the Police Service Commission must be ‘regularised’ so that it makes recommendations of potential candidates to the President. Mugabe would then consult and agree with the PM on the next police chief.
But the following day Mugabe was singing a different tune. Not only did Charamba announce the renewal of Chihuri’s contract but he also indicated that the terms of office of the other service chiefs will be announced as and when their current ones expire.
This effectively means General Constantine Chiwenga (ZDF), Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda (ZNA), Air Marshal Perrance Shiri (Airforce) and Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi (Prisons) will have their contracts renewed unilaterally by Mugabe without any regard for the coalition government.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka dismissed Charamba’s pronouncement as “utter rubbish”.
Tamborinyika said “I don’t know which sewage Mr Charamba is fishing that position from.To the best of our knowledge, the term of office of the police commissioner-general expired on the 31st of January. The position of the prime minister is now a public record.
They agreed on the necessary processes which must be followed, which processes will eventuate in an agreement between the President and the Prime Minister, which is the constitutional position.”
Tamborinyoka added: “In any case, the Police Service Commission is not properly regularised. The principals agreed that that must be done first. Two out of three principals articulated the position of the principals at a press conference yesterday. Mr Charamba is at complete variance with common sense and the principals’ position.”
Mutambara concurred, saying: “We stick to the content of our press conference yesterday (Wednesday).We have documented records of our meeting of principals done by the Chief Secretary to Cabinet (Dr Mischeck Sibanda).”
When Mugabe lost the presidential elections in 2008, the same commanders under the Joint Operations Command (JOC) led a murderous campaign called ‘Operation Mavhotera Papi- Where Did You Vote?’ in which state security agents and soldiers targeted perceived supporters of the victor Morgan Tsvangirai. An estimated 500 people were murdered, thousands tortured and others displaced. Nehanda Radio.com
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