Harare — Zimbabwe has no troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the last group of soldiers having been withdrawn from that country in October 2002 when the tour of duty ended, Defence Minister Cde Sydney Sekeramayi said yesterday.
The minister told the House of Assembly that reports that a detachment of 50 Zimbabwean soldiers were providing close security to DRC President Joseph Kabila were not true. He was responding to a question by Mutare North legislator Mr Giles Mutsekwa during a question and answer session.
Mr Mutsekwa wanted the minister to clarify reports that a detachment of 50 Zimbabwean soldiers under the command of one Lieutenant Colonel Richard Sauta was providing close security to the DRC president. The opposition lawmaker also wanted the minister to explain the payment of such services and how long the alleged soldiers had been performing such duties and whether they were paid in their personal capacities.
Cde Sekeramayi said the Government was no privy to the details concerning VIP protection in the DRC. "We are not aware how the DRC government handle the issues of VIP protection. There are no Zimbabwean soldiers still deployed in the DRC," he said. Zimbabwean troops, he said, went to the DRC in 1998 to support the DRC government against invaders who were backed by Rwanda and Uganda and this was in line with the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Protocol on Defence and Security. "The Zimbabwe Defence Forces did a commendable job to ensure that there was no unconstitutional change of government in the DRC in line with the Sadc protocol," he said.
The minister said the war in the DRC officially ended in July 2002 and by October of the same year, all Zimbabwean troops had been withdrawn.