Watchdog, opposition raise red flag over security sector reforms

LEGISLATIVE watchdog, Veritas and the opposition have raised a red flag over President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s lack of political will to institute security sector reforms after he failed to include them on the legislative agenda of the Ninth Parliament.


Mnangagwa, however, said re-alignment of some of the country’s laws to the Constitution “remains work in progress”.

Mnangagwa mentioned a number of Bills to be tabled in Parliament as he outlined the legislative agenda of the august House last week.

A number of Bills such as the Provincial and Metropolitan Council Bill are up for re-alignment.

The opposition has for years been calling for security sector reforms. A unity government agreement — which was brokered by Southern African Development Community (Sadc) after the violent 2008 elections — included proposals for security sector reforms, but there has been no movement in that direction.

The Global Political Agreement in Article XIII (13.10) states that organisations and institutions of which the army, police, prisons and the Central Intelligence Organisation are part of, do not belong to any political party and should be impartial in the discharge of their duties.

“Security legislation: No mention is made of the need to align the Defence Act, the Police Act and the Prisons and Correctional Services Act, all of which need further alignment.

The purely token changes that were made in by the General Laws Amendment Act passed by the last Parliament were not good enough,” Veritas said in a commentary.

“Freedom of speech, Press and assembly: There is no indication of an intention to change the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Public Order and Security Act or the repressive provisions of the Criminal Law Code.”

Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri, however, last week told NewsDay that she would be looking at the reforms.

“I am looking forward also to conferring with the President looking at all these other challenges which you are raising and also if it means that the reforms that you are talking about will be necessary, because this has been an issue raised over and over again, but I am really looking forward to working with my colleagues who are still within the defence sector, and I am willing to learn as much as possible.

“You also need to know that our force is recognised the world over, you know they have served at United Nations level, at African Union level and with the challenges that you are raising I am sure to these agencies they don’t see any problems, but they see excellency in the work performed by our own forces,” she said.

MDC Alliance spokesperson Jacob Mafume and his Zapu counterpart Iphithule Maphosa said the opposition remains worried over lack of political will to institute security sector reforms.

“One of the reasons why we had a coup in 2017 is because of lack of security sector reforms.

We need to put a stop to that kind of military meddling in civilian affairs through security laws that stipulate the proper operations of the army,” Maphosa said.

“We are concerned by the lack of mention of critical reforms to the security sector in the legislative agenda.

The problems we faced in the recently held elections emanated from the lack of security sector reforms where everything is seen in security lenses and lack of accountability in the security sector.”

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