A click of top brass elements within Zimbabwe’s military and members of the Zanu (PF) old guard are resisting political reforms and inevitable change in the country. This is contained in leaked minutes of a meeting involving opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) convened on Sunday in Mutare.
The said resistance would see Zimbabwe soon entering a perilous stretch which might derail its recently formed inclusive government, minutes say.
Dated March 17, the document that was circulated among MDC members after a meeting between the party’s treasurer Roy Bennett and colleagues warns that military officers doggedly opposed to the recently formed unity government were a threat to the transitional arrangement.
It says Bennett, who is also agriculture deputy minister, was disappointed that he was arrested upon his return to Zimbabwe in February after his exile to SA because President Kgalema Motlanthe had promised he would not be arraigned on allegations of plotting against President Robert Mugabe’s government. He spent two months in detention after being arrested on allegations he and his party say are politically contrived and false.
The minutes also say the transition period between now and the adoption of the new constitution would be dangerous. “A new constitution is being drawn up which will take 18 months. This will be put to a referendum and if it’s a yes vote result, elections will follow in 90 days,” the document says.
It added “The present situation is regarded as a very uncomfortable marriage between the MDC and Zanu (PF). There is a lot of resistance to change and the military are trying all the dirty tricks in the book to derail the process,” It carries a menacing warning that Zimbabwe could be heading for instability. “Within three months, Zimbabwe is going to enter the most dangerous period of its history. This will be while the military and Zanu (PF) are being weaned off the gravy train as they plan their final attack in an effort to ward off the inevitable MDC involvement and takeover,” the minutes say.
No hardline senior army officers are named in the minutes of the meeting, which focused on the political situation in the country.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who returned home Tuesday has said there were “parallel forces mounting residual resistance” to change. But these “dark forces of resistance” would not be allowed to derail the unity government.
However, MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa on Tuesday said he was not aware of Bennett’s meeting with colleagues, but it was normal that his party members would have meetings at various levels and places when pressing issues arose. “I’m not aware of that, but our members meet all the time (…) People meet to discuss different issues. That is normal and there is nothing wrong with it.”
The document says despite resistance to change, structures that propped up Mugabe would soon be dismantled to facilitate political and economic reforms. “There is a feeling of hope amid the MDC in that Zanu (PF) realises the game is up,” the document says.
It gives an example of a senior unnamed official in the agriculture ministry who was recently appointed by Mugabe but had since allegedly “crossed the floor”. It says Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono “is just as good as gone” and that Attorney-General Johannes Tomana might also go.
The MDC has been demanding that Mugabe remove Gono and Tomana. Mugabe has refused to relinquish them. “The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is to be dismantled as it is/was the source of funds for Zanu (PF),” it says. “Gono has been sidelined.