2 June 2008

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Asked Khama for Armoured Car

THE leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai asked the Botswana government for an armoured car and armed escorts to help return to Zimbabwe safely saying that his life was under threats, reports the weekly Sunday Mail.

According to the weekly publication Tsvangirai's request was turned down by the new president of Botswana, Ian Khama who is reported as saying Tsvangirai's life was not in danger and that armed men would not be allowed into Zimbabwe.

"President Khama told him that his life was not under apparent threat and that Zimbabwean authorities would not allow armed foreigners in their territory," reports the weekly paper.

President Mugabe is said to have known about the plan for some time.

According to the paper, "President Mugabe ... said he had heard of Mr Tsvangirai's unusual request in Botswana but dismissed it as a futile attempt by the opposition leader to portray himself as a president."

The paper also quotes President Mugabe as saying to media personnel: "He was making all kinds of requests. I suppose he wanted to come back clothed in new presidential attire with armed men and an armoured car."

The paper also alleges that the MDC-T leader is "working in cahoots with some Rhodesian elements to set up underground structures that are behind the anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa and the terror campaigns in Zimbabwe," and had recruited young Zimbabweans in South Africa who are being deployed to cause terror in Zimbabwe.

The paper claims that some of the youths are quartered at a farm outside Tswane (Pretoria) while a second group is known to be based at a farm outside Pietermaritzburg where at least 15 of them are being trained by former Rhodesian Selous Scouts.

The Selous Scouts was a special forces regiment of Prime Minister Ian Smith's Rhodesian Army which operated from 1973-1980. The charter of the Selous Scouts directed "the clandestine elimination of terrorists/terrorism both within and without the country.

Selous Scouts and Rhodesian forces are said to have introduced the form of attack called necklacing, which is now being used in xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

Following the dissolution of the regiment in 1980, many of its soldiers travelled south to join the South African Defence Force, especially the 5 Reconnaissance Commando.

The Secretary for Information and Publicity, George Charamba, confirmed that they had received reports on the existence of these underground structures.

He said that Zimbabwean and South African authorities were carrying out investigations into the issue.

"Unfortunately for them (MDC), the whole operation misfired, degrading it into indiscriminate and gratuitous violence against all and sundry including South Africans. This is an imprecise political missile that has backfired.

"Our security structures are working hand-in-glove with their counterparts in South Africa and we are expecting results very soon," Charamba is quoted as saying.

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