By Tichaona Sibanda
25 June 2010
The Joint Operations Command (JOC), a state security organization only accountable to Robert Mugabe, is spearheading ZANU PF’s campaign to foist the Kariba draft on the people of Zimbabwe.
Since the constitutional outreach programme started on Monday SW Radio Africa has been inundated with reports of soldiers roaming towns and districts intimidating people to toe the ZANU PF line.
Armed and uniformed soldiers have been threatening and intimidating villagers to support ZANU PF views in many districts of Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. On Thursday Senator Morgan Komichi told us they were receiving reports that in some areas the soldiers were toyi-toying and chanting ZANU PF slogans.
ZANU PF is eager to include in the new constitution the contents of the so called ‘Kariba draft’. It makes Mugabe eligible to continue in office with entrenched powers, for another 10 years, which means he would die in office and avoid prosecution for human rights abuses.
JOC remains the single biggest threat to the inclusive government. It is made up of army commanders, Central Intelligence Organisation directors, police and prison commissioners - most of them veterans of the 1970’s war of liberation.
In 2008 they spearheaded Mugabe’s violent fight back, after he lost the first round of the presidential election to then arch rival and now Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Commissioner of Prisons, Retired Major General Paradzai Zimondi and Airforce of Zimbabwe Air Chief Marshall Perence Shiri, still refuse to meet Tsvangirai in the absence of Mugabe.
Though on paper JOC was dismantled under the Global Political Agreement and replaced by the National Security Council (NSC), the group still meets Mugabe on a weekly basis. Tsvangirai does not attend these meetings, though he meets the service chiefs once a month in the presence of Mugabe.
A highly placed source told us the security chiefs prefer not to discuss issues of military strategy and intelligence during NSC meetings, opting rather to exchange ideas and opinions on serious matters with Mugabe.
‘This is the only sector (security) that remains problematic in the government. While other institutions are slowly reforming the security chiefs have stuck with Mugabe and will not let go. We know issues to do with handling the MDC are discussed during these weekly JOC meetings. This is why we are not surprised they’ve sent troops to intimidate people from taking part in the outreach programme,’ our source said.