• November 16th, 2018
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Neutralising coup plots against legitimate governments

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Charles Siyauya With the problematic contextual background of African independent states where patronage, clientele, ethnic and personal wealth advancement are the basis which informs civil-military policy it becomes imperative to critically assess the options for democratic civil-military controls. It should be highlighted that in most states the supremacy of the constitution is subverted by one-man supremacy (succinctly captured in the presidential powers political jargon). The first typology civilian control of the military is where the head of state uses personal relatives and ethnic personnel to key command posts in the military. One clear example - President Idriss Deby of Chad relied on his own ethnic group for his personal security. A variant is the appointment of presidential family members to key command positions in the military. An example is that of Ian Khama’s rapid rise through the ranks of the Botswana Defence Force. Numerous other examples are found in countries such as Kenya, Togo, Niger, Equatorial Guinea etc. It is believed that such appointments keep the presidential hand in operational control of the military. However, Decalo warns that this policy of preferential recruitment into the military leads to the creation of a predominately ‘ethnic army’ and has the potential of destabilising the country (1991:110). Second, and the most preferred by most African heads of states is the instrumental pay-off where control measure is used to ‘buy’ the loyalty of soldiers by maximising material satisfaction relating to pay, privileges and other rewards. This control measure awards military officers with vast social economic benefits and allows the military to partake albeit corruptly financial wealth accumulation. This will dissuade the political ambitions of officer corps as they will have the same benefits as the civilian politicians and thus will be eager to maintain the status quo (Decalo, 1991:111). Examples are many: in other African countries senior military officers were allocated land grants for commercial purposes or selected for overseas diplomatic posts and training courses. The military officers have access to large tracts of prime farmland and are given preferential access to lucrative mining deals and business opportunities, which ward off personal political ambitions and allow the perpetual political survival of the ruling class. This type of control of the military is detrimental to democratic values of the nation as loyalty of the military is not to the state but to the governing clique of civilian authority. Third is the political or bureaucratic co-option where senior military officers and those in other ranks in most African countries have been co-opted into government or party circles and appointed to the boards of parastatals or as regional governors. In Tanzania, Namibia, Zimbabwe and other African countries there has been regular transfer of officers from the armed forces to ministerial, diplomatic and party positions. This control measure ensures that the military sees opportunity in retiring from active service and enter into business where inadequate transparency is in place to promote wealth accumulation and social status. A fourth control mechanism is the manipulation of military mission. This device involves the deliberate deployment of the armed forces in order to keep them occupied. This may take the form of using the military for civic action programmes or for domestic law and order operations in aid of the civil authority. The danger here is that internal security commitments have a potentially politicising impact on the minds of the military. This method is also common even in southern African states like Zimbabwe where adhoc military deployments in national programmes aimed at strengthening government were instituted such as Operation Maguta, which distributed farm inputs to rural populace. This control measure apart from boosting civil-military relations by creating public rapport, has a negative outcome of the military being manipulated by political parties to further their political ambitions (Price, S, 2004). Fifth is ideological indoctrination – the intentional indoctrination of the armed forces with the ideological values of the governing party. This undermines the professionalism of the armed forces, which entails, among other things, political indifference and neutrality. Ideological indoctrination normally starts with the officer corps and then cascades down to private soldiers. The central problem with such ideologies is they may not have been designed in such a way to capture the national ideology and/or become obsolete to the majority of citizens. A common example in African states is the liberation ideology which is always championed by liberation political parties like the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa, SWAPO Party in Namibia and ZANU PF in Zimbabwe. It is also a fact that the demographic state of these countries has changed with youths who never participated in the struggle now comprising the majority, and thus feel alienated by this doctrine which is being roped to the national military. (to be continued)
New Era Reporter
2018-01-26 10:21:05 9 months ago

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