A Letter to R.M.

28th December 2005

President Robert Mugabe,
Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,
State House,

As the Commander-in- Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), you are no doubt acutely aware of the Constitutional provisions and the relevant Acts of Parliament governing the conduct and operations of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).

There are neither constitutional nor legal provisions in either the Constitution or the Defence Act and the Police Act which empower you to transform these national institutions into combative political units of your political party ZANU PF. Instead, in the Constitution and relevant Acts of Parliament, an impregnable line is clearly drawn between the areas of military operations and competence and those that are within the province of competence of political and civic authorities. You are constitutionally and legally bound to maintain and uphold that line.

Where that line is drawn is not a matter of interpretation, argument or haggling. The line is cast in stone. To equivocate on this fundamental principle is to overthrow a critical provision of the Constitution and subvert the relevant Acts of Parliament.

The ZDF and the ZRP are specifically and explicitly barred from participating in the politics and political processes of the country as organized units with distinct political preferences operationalised in the context of military and police formations aligned to a particular political party. They can only participate in politics as individual private citizens entitled to cast their votes in secrecy of the ballot box.

This line between military and political/civil matters is designed to ensure the perpetuation of representative civilian government as opposed to the imposition of an unrepresentative military junta. For the record, I have to restate that we in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have committed ourselves to this sacred principle and on numerous public occasions we have stated that under an MDC government, the professional standing, hierarchy and integrity of the Army and the Police will be jealously guarded. The Army and the Police will be insulated from the negative effects of competitive politics on their esprit de corps.

Tragically, the record of your regime displays a deliberate strategy to bend the Constitution and warp the relevant Parliamentary statutes in order to obliterate this critical separation between civilian and military affairs, as a way to thwart and neutralize legitimate and peaceful democratic political challenges. In the result, you have now created a civil-military junta, which acts as an illegal bulwark against democratic political opposition in general.

This is amply demonstrated by the undeniable fact that since 2001, you have remained silent when senior members of the of the ZDF and ZRP officer corps make public political pronouncements singling out the MDC as an enemy political formation that must be destroyed, while at the same time, the same officers profess unqualified allegiance to your political party, ZANU PF. In December 2001, General Zvinavashe, then overall commander of the ZDF, flanked by the commanders of the Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force, Police and the Directors of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and Prisons, openly announced at a press conference, their partisan and unqualified allegiance to your political party and their unflinching hostility to the MDC, pointing out that they neither accepted an MDC victory in the then forthcoming presidential poll nor were they to take orders from or salute an MDC government and president respectively.

This was a clear announcement to rebel against a legitimate popularly elected representative government should it come to power. It was a direct threat to mount a coup d'etat against an MDC government should it come to power. Again you remained silent in the face of the public pronouncements of service commanders who had openly expressed their intention to negate the popular will and overthrow the Constitution. As Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF we can safely assume that they were acting under your direct orders. If the opposite is true, why was there no action on your part? Is that the legacy you want to bequeath Zimbabwe?

Zvinavashe's successor General Constantine Chiwenga reiterated the same political position soon after his appointment; and subsequently Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, made it abundantly clear in public that he was an active member of your political party, ZANU PF; that members of the ZRP who did not support ZANU PF should leave the force and that he himself would not serve under an MDC government. This was an open invitation for the police to rebel against a government, which would have been constitutionally elected. Again you said and did nothing.

Recently, on December 12, 2005 while addressing a pass out parade at Thornhill Air Force Base in Gweru, these insurgent and rebellious political positions were given a sharper focus, renewed urgency and active intent by Major-General Chedondo. Chedondo announced an operational instruction or military order that the MDC must be destroyed and that I, Morgan Tsvangirai, its leader must be regarded and treated as National Enemy No. 1. This cannot be interpreted in any other way except as a call for the structural destruction of a legitimate and legal political party, commanding the allegiance of millions of Zimbabweans and the physical elimination of its president and leadership. This was a more focussed and more direct threat to the MDC as a peaceful democratic political party and the continued physical existence of its leadership. Up to now, you have done nothing about the Chedondo's clearly criminal pronouncements.

Is it your order and command that the Army and the Police should rebel against any future government that does not emanate from ZANU PF? Is it also your order that every other political party that aspires to and eventually comes to power in Zimbabwe must be destroyed and its leadership physically eliminated?

Let me say this to you for the record: A physical elimination of myself and some of my colleagues in the MDC leadership will not solve your political problems. If anything such a dastardly and cowardly act will definitely have an incendiary and therefore totally destructive effect on the country. How will history remember and judge you?

It is therefore quite clear that under your direct command, and under the present ZDF and ZRP officer corps, the Army and the Police are being transformed into organized armed combat units of your political party. You are destroying the future political environment/terrain for democratic politics and civilian rule in Zimbabwe. In fact, by your instigation you have virtually destroyed the terrain for civilian competitive politics in the country. It is not too late for you to alter the specific character of the legacy that you will one day leave behind.

We are aware that your instructions as expressed by the officer corps of the Army and the Police have not percolated to the lower levels of patriotic ordinary soldiers and policemen and women, whose loyalty to the Zimbabwean nation undoubtedly goes beyond narrow allegiances to political parties. However, by pushing senior Army and Police officers into active politics, you are creating a potentially dangerous and explosive situation, which constitutes a serious threat to the future stability and integrity of the country.

You are no doubt aware that Africa is replete with examples of the disastrous consequences of deliberately politicising the officer corps of the army and the police and the bloody fractious outcome of that. Is this the legacy you want to leave behind?

It is common knowledge that in addition to subverting the command structures of the police and the army, your regime has transformed the CIO into an intelligence wing of your political party, bend on harassing, brutalising and murdering MDC supporters with impunity; while senior civil servants are required, at the pain of severe sanctions, to be active and card carrying members of your political party, engaging in ferocious political battles against the MDC. These organs of the Zimbabwe public service are now operating virtually as active partisan units of your political party in what is supposed to be a civilian political contest between two civilian political parties. It has become, instead, a contest between the civilian political formation that I lead and the civil-military junta that you preside over.

We are well aware that this politicisation of the Army, Police, CIO and Senior Civil Servants are a product of your desperate attempt to ruthlessly quash all political opposition, both inside and outside your party, ahead of your inevitable departure from office. This will enable you to craft, engineer and implement an illegitimate succession plan to the position of State President in which a hand picked successor will inherit your despotic rule. We are further aware that this militarization of the political terrain is intended to create a context in which you will use your party's contrived two-thirds majority in the House of Assembly to once again tamper with the Constitution and push the scheduled presidential poll from 2008 to 2010, thereby nullifying the constitutional requirement for your handpicked successor to seek a popular mandate to govern -- a mandate which you very well know the people of Zimbabwe will never grant. You seem to be bent on sacrificing the stability and integrity of the country on the altar of your succession plans.

This particular policy of your regime and the current survival strategy of your political party in the light of your inevitable exit from active politics, are combining to usher in a visible and ominous threat to the stability and integrity of the country. You are charting a disastrous path for the future of the country. The people of Zimbabwe will continue to resist any political formulae imposed on them solely in accordance with the whims of your temper.

We make a minimal plea to you in the name of the people of Zimbabwe, to abandon these games and let the people of Zimbabwe, at your expected departure, choose a government and political leaders of their choice without your interference and unwanted tutelage.

I Remain,

Morgan Tsvangirai,
Cc: Chairman, African Union
Secretary General, United Nations
Chairman, SADC