/ 6 August 2009

Mugabe ‘preparing for war’, warns DA

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe is stockpiling arms and ammunition and preparing for war, the Democratic Alliance (DA) warned on Thursday.

Briefing the media at Parliament, following a fact-finding visit to Zimbabwe last week, DA MPs Wilmot James and Kenneth Mubu said ”credible sources” within the country reported Mugabe was talking to Venezuela, Cuba and Korea to fund a war chest ahead of the next election.

The ageing leader was also trying to procure 7,62mm and 9mm ammunition from South Africa.

”I think there is no doubt Mugabe is preparing for war. We spoke to very, very reliable sources,” Mubu told journalists.

These included the Human Rights NGO Forum, comprising 16 local NGOs; and the Harare-based organisations Justice for Agriculture, the Legal Resources Foundation and the Research and Advocacy Unit.

Mubu said they had also spoken to Zimbabwe’s Regional Integration and International Cooperation Minister, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, and Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Moses Ndlovu.

”These people are on the ground, they are in touch with the communities, in rural areas particularly, and we have no doubt what they tell us is true,” he said.

Citing a Belgian research group, International Peace Information Service, James said some arms shipments had already arrived in Zimbabwe.

”On August 21 2008 the first of many arms shipments, containing 32 tons of [ammunition] was flown from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Harare.

”On August 30, a second shipment of 20 tons of AK-47 [ammunition] arrived. This was flown in via Angola, [and also] included mortar bombs and rockets.”

James said he regretted to report South Africa was planning a shipment of ammunition to Zimbabwe.

”Our own country … is planning to export 7,62mm and 9mm ammunition to Zimbabwe. Parliament’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee is considering authorising more than a million rounds of both types of bullets for export there.

”Mugabe is [also] talking to Venezuela, Cuba and Korea to fund a war-chest in preparation for the referendum and election, following the implementation of the global political agreement [GPA] brokered by former president Thabo Mbeki on behalf of [the Southern African Development Community].”

James said Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party appeared to be ”mobilising for war against their own citizens”.

James and Mubu called on President Jacob Zuma to impose an arms embargo on Zimbabwe.

Further, Zuma — in his capacity as Southern African Development Community chairperson — should ”actively restrain” Mugabe’s regime from mobilising what they called its ”well-organised paramilitary terror apparatus”. — Sapa