MASVINGO - State institutions in Zimbabwe must not show any political allegiance and remain apolitical if they are to effectively work towards the promotion of peace in the country, renowned academic and Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe president, Dr Takavafira Zhou has said.
He was speaking at a dialogue meeting jointly hosted by the National Transitional Justice Working Group (NTJWG) and TellZim News at Charles Austin Theatre.
The meeting was a platform for citizens to discuss how state institutions can be reformed so that they work for the promotion of peace in Zimbabwe.
Dr Zhou said as long as state institutions continued to pay their allegiance to Zanu PF, the current trend of violence, abductions and torture would continue.
"Peace is not merely the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between rivals. The military, police and judiciary as state institutions have important roles to play in advancing the goal of peace through judicious non-partisan work," said Dr Zhou.
Dr Zhou said since President Robert Mugabe's historical speech on reconciliation in 1980, peace had eluded the country because the 'reconciliation' did not bring closure and was simply a top-down order with no effort made to consult the grassroots.
He added that institutions like the army, the police, secret services, the judiciary and the traditional leadership have to be reformed for successful reconciliation and genuine peace.
"State security agents and chiefs continue to violate the rights of citizens because they know they will not be held accountable for their actions," said Dr Zhou.
He said the open declaration of partisan allegiance by senior military officers had scuttled hope for a democratic handover of power.
"Army generals, represented by Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba, responded to calls by the MDC-T's Morgan Tsvangirai for security forces not to meddle in politics by declaring that the security forces and Zanu PF were inseparable.
"Following the pattern set by their superiors like the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe in 2002, current Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, Air Marshall Perence Shiri, prisons chief Paradzai Zimondi and Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri, Nyikayaramba has indicated they would not serve under the leadership of anyone who did not have liberation war credentials," he said.
Dr Zhou said only when these state institutions are reformed will there be genuine peace and healing in the country.news