Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

HARARE ( Reuters) – Internet campaigns calling
for protests against the 31 – year rule of President
Robert Mugabe on Tuesday did not lead to any
mass gatherings in Zimbabwe, where police
have threatened to crush any ” Egypt -style “
The two campaigns , on Facebook and Twitter ,
were trying to start popular uprisings similar to
ones that toppled the long -serving leaders of
Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening Libyan
strongman Muammar Gaddafi.
Although there was no unusual security
deployment in Harare on Tuesday , private
newspaper NewsDay reported that soldiers in
armoured troop carriers had been ” sighted ” on
Monday in traditionally restive townships in the
The Facebook campaign calling for a million
citizen march and a separate one on Twitter
were aimed at bringing down Mugabe, 87 ,
leader since independence from Britain in 1980.
Zimbabweans in London were planning to burn
an effigy of Mugabe outside of the country ‘ s
embassy in London in support of the Facebook
campaign .
But by mid- morning, there was no sign of any
gathering in the large park in Harare named as
the protest venue by the organisers operating
under the banner FreeZimActivists .
Other parks , normally packed with people, were
largely empty , apparently over people’s fears of
being caught up in any protest .
Zimbabwe’s dominant state media made no
reference to the planned demonstration against
Mugabe, who rights groups say has used
violence and intimidation to crush any
Tensions have been running high in the past
weeks, with Mugabe ‘s ZANU- PF pushing for
early elections that officials from the rival and
governing partner MDC party have said could
lead to a bloodbath.
Mugabe was forced into a power -sharing
government with Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’ s Movement for Democratic Change
after the controversial 2008 vote that led to
violence and hundreds of thousands fleeing the
country .
Police officials – – who said they would crack
down on any protest — were not immediately
available for comment.
Ordinary Zimbabweans are fearful of speaking
publicly about the call to protest, mindful of
tight security laws with sweeping provisions
against anything that could be viewed as inciting
violence or rebellion against a constitutional
order .
Last week , police arrested 46 people in Harare
as they watched videos of protests in the north
African countries and discussed possible
demonstrations in Zimbabwe, where Mugabe
plans to run for another five year -term in
elections he wants to call later this year .
ZANU-PF has deployed massive shows of force ,
including using helicopter gunships, against
previous protests .
Critics say Mugabe has used tough policing and
vote -rigging to keep his grip on power despite
an economic crisis in the past decade that many
blame on his mismanagement .

By Cris Chinaka
HARARE ( Reuters)


HARARE – President Robert Mugabe may
have attempted to use Swaziland to bust
an international arms embargo by asking the
small kingdom nation to clandestinely buy
weapons from a British firm in 2008, it has
emerged .
The bid to evade an European Union arms
embargo on Harare was thwarted by British
authorities who blocked the purchase of US $ 60
million worth of military equipment by
Swaziland because of strong suspicions that the
small kingdom was acting as an intermediary for
Harare , according to a diplomatic cable released
last week by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The cable , written by former British ambassador
to Swaziland Maurice Parker , said that in
December 2008 the government of the
Kingdom of Swaziland ( GKOS ) sought to
purchase approximately US $60 million worth of
military equipment , including helicopters ,
vehicles , weapons and ammunition from a
British arms manufacturer .
“ The British government denied the request over
end – use concerns ,” Parker allegedly wrote.
In documents requesting permission to
purchase the equipment , Swaziland ‘ s Ministry of
Defence stated that the equipment was for use
by the country ’ s defence forces on United
Nations peacekeeping deployment in Africa.
Parker said permission was denied because it
was unclear whether the weapons were
intended for UN peacekeeping purposes or
whether Swaziland was “ possibly acting as an
intermediary for a third party ” .
“ The GKOS may have been attempting to build
up domestic capability to deal with unrest , or
was possibly acting as an intermediary for a
third party such as Zimbabwe or a Middle
Eastern country that had cash , diamonds or
goods to trade ,” the cable said.
The alleged purchase request came just months
after southern African human rights groups
stopped a Chinese ship laden with arms
destined for the Zimbabwean army from
docking at ports in the region.
Swaziland ’ s King Mswati III is one of Mugabe ’ s
closest regional allies and was chairman of the
security troika of the Southern African
Development Community .
Zimbabwe is subject to a Western arms
embargo which is part of a raft of punitive
measures imposed on Mugabe and senior
members of his ruling elite by the European
Union , United States , New Zealand and Australia
for their alleged role in human rights abuses .
The cable said the Swazi arms purchases were
blocked after suspicions that the array of
weapons requested would not be needed for
the first phases of peacekeeping .
The purchase application included requests for
three Bell Model UH-1 H helicopters, FN Herstal
light machine guns , armoured personnel
carriers , command and control vehicles
including one fitted with heavy machine gun ,
military ambulances , armoured repair and
recovery vehicles , military image intensifier
equipment and optical target surveillance
equipment .

by Own Correspondent

Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was
confronted in Parliament Wednesday with
allegations that Zimbabwe National Army ( ZNA)
members were part of the mercenaries hired to
suppress the popular revolt in strife -torn Libya
and to protect leader Muammar Gaddafi.
MDC-T Chief Whip Innocent Gonese quizzed
Mnangagwa on the veracity of reports
emanating from the North African country that
Zimbabwean soldiers were shooting down
unarmed Libyan civilians protesting against
Gaddafi’ s 42 -year rule.
“ Mr Speaker , I would like to know from the
Minister of Defence , Emmerson Mnangagwa ,
whether there is any truth in the recent press
reports that many mercenaries assisting Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi are personnel from
the ZNA, ” said Gonese . “ What is the government
policy regarding the use of force by armed
forces against civilians?”
Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo ruled
Gonese ’ s question was not a policy issue .
“ Honourable Gonese , that is not a policy
question .
However , if the Minister of Defence feels he
needs to shed light on the issue , we will give
him the opportunity to respond to it, ” the
Speaker said .
Parliament Standing Rules and Orders stipulate
MPs should ask ministers policy questions only
during Wednesday ’ s question and answer
sessions .
Mnangagwa did not hesitate to respond but his
answer did not specifically relate to Gonese ’ s
question on whether the ZNA was actually
participating as mercenaries in Libya .
“ That there are mercenaries who are African
and are in Libya – I have no mandate in my
duty as Minister of Defence to investigate
activities happening in another African country .
“ It is possible for the honourable member to
direct his question to the Foreign Affairs
ministry, who might also enquire through
foreign relations if there are any African
countries participating there , ” said Mnangagwa .

Mnangagwa said there was no provision in the
country ’ s laws to participate in events outside
the country .
“ Whether the government of Zimbabwe has any
policy where members of the Zimbabwe
National Army are allowed to participate in
cases or in events outside the country , I would
like to advise honourable members that we do
not have that provision in the Defence Act ,” said
However , in 1997 Zimbabwe sent thousands of
combat troops backed by jet fighters and heavy
artillery to the Democratic Republic of Congo
( DRC ) to prop up the late Laurent Kabila against
rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
The Zimbabwe military managed to halt the
rebels ’ advancement to Kinshasa, the DRC
The protracted war , which sucked in several
countries including Namibia , Angola and Chad ,
ended in 2002 after peace talks .
Mnangagwa said any person who became a
member of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces –
even after retirement — should maintain loyalty
to the country .
“ I have some MPs from the other side of the
House who are still loyal to me . They are still
loyal to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and not
alien foreign forces .
“ I am delighted you have created an opportunity
for me to educate many more than yourself ,”
Mnangagwa said.
Gaddafi has been resisting pressure to step
down from civilians in Libya , resulting in civil
unrest and warnings from him that “ his
enemies ” would be executed .
On Tuesday he said he would choose to “ die a
martyr” than to bow down to pressure that he
should leave office, and to date human rights
groups have revealed up to 1 000 people have
been killed in the violence so far .

19 : 30

The British government has been funding activities of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) during the past 12 months despite strained relations between London and Harare, it has emerged.

The revelations were made by British Under-Secretary for Defence Andrew Robathan while responding to an enquiry from an MP in the House of Commons last week.

But the British embassy in Harare denied London was directly funding ZDF programmes in Zimbabwe.
Keith Scott, the embassy’s political and communications first secretary, said:

“The United Kingdom does not fund the Zimbabwe military. The British Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s involvement in Zimbabwe is limited to civilian UN/African Union peacekeeping training at the Sadc Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre, which is a Sadc institution based in Harare.”

Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “They pulled out in 2000. It’s now 11 years since they left and they have never been back.”

Mnangagwa said the ZDF was not involved in any military programmes with the British.

Although the ZDF was not benefiting directly from the British government, Zimbabwe reportedly benefited through the British Army Military Training Team at the Sadc Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre in Harare.

Robathan, however, said the British Defence department was indeed funding military programmes in Zimbabwe while responding to an enquiry from East Renfrewshire MP Jimmy Murphy.

Murphy wanted to know which military programmes the British Defence department was funding in Zimbabwe and several other countries that included Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Robathan refused to disclose how much the British government had allocated to Zimbabwe and the other several countries.

Robathan, however, said the UK MoD had during the last 12 months funded military programmes in Zimbabwe and other countries.

He said the programmes were aimed at enhancing bilateral relationships and building stability overseas as part of the government’s wider foreign policy goals.

They consisted of a wide range of activities including:

providing places on defence education and training courses in the UK (such as the army, air force and navy junior officer training and the joint services advanced command and staff course.

According to reports, Robathan said it was not possible to provide a breakdown of the cost and details of individual programmes as this disclosure would likely prejudice relations between the UK and other states.

Relations between Harare and London were in 2000 strained after President Robert Mugabe launched a violent fast-track land reform programme which drove out white commercial farmers from farmland.

As a result of the standoff Britain and its allies in the European Union slapped President Mugabe and his lieutenants with sanctions.

The country was also put on an EU arms embargo.


KELVIN JAKACHIRA | HARARE – Feb 13 2011 19:43

HARARE – Air Vice Marshal
Henry Muchena has told Zanu
( PF ) leaders in Mashonaland
West province that the military
was taking over the party’ s
campaign and that the political
leaders will have to abide by a
campaign programme to be
designed by the soldiers .
Muchena, a hardliner ally of
President Robert Mugabe has
been fingered as the man in
charge of a plan by the military
to wage violence and terror —
worse than seen in the bloody
2008 presidential run- off poll in
which at least 200 MDC
supporters and thousands of
others were made homeless –
in a bid to cow Zimbabweans to
back the Zanu ( PF ) leader in the
next election whose date is yet
to be named .
According to sources Muchena
met the party’ s provincial
executive three weeks ago at
the 2. 3 Infantry Battalion ’ s
Magunje barracks in the
province . “ The meeting was
tense and Muchena accused us
of not campaigning for
President Robert Mugabe in the
last elections , ” said our source ,
who attended the meeting .
“ He further said district and
provincial members were
misinforming the President that
he still has support when what
was on the ground is the
opposite . He told us that they
are taking over all party
business to ensure that the
party wins at all costs . ’’
Muchena could be reached for
comment on the matter.
However , and as earlier
reported by local media ,
Muchena and other senior
military commanders have in
recent months met Zanu ( PF )
leaders in various provinces to
tell them to step aside for the
military to campaign for
Mugabe’ s re -election .
For example at one such
meeting in Manicaland province
last November , Brigadier
General Douglas Nyikayaramba
and Air Commodore Innocent
Chiganze told the Zanu ( PF )
provincial leadership that the
military was taking over the
party’ s campaign in order to be
able to stop Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai from
Zimbabwe’ s elections have in
the past been blighted by
violence and charges of vote
rigging, which saw the European
Union and United States
slapping sanctions on Mugabe,
top Zanu ( PF ) members and the
security forces commanders .

Written by George Mombe
Saturday, 29 January 2011
07 : 38