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Thursday, 23 August 2007
MUGABE NOW PROTECTED BY ANGOLAN BODY-GUARDS!
By Our Correspondent
HARARE, August 23, 2007 - An increasingly paranoid President Robert Mugabe has reportedly dismissed his close personal security guards and hired Angolan soldiers to protect him in the wake of a foiled alleged coup attempt two months ago.
Impeccable sources within the security forces told The Zimbabwe Times this week that Mugabe had engaged the services of Angolan commandos because many of his own close security guards had been linked to the attempted coup back in June that was ruthlessly crushed by loyalists within the security forces.
The coup attempt and pending elections, which are scheduled for next year and which observers say could be hotly contested by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have reportedly sent shivers down the presidential spine.
The sources said the Angolan soldiers reported for duty in Harare a fortnight ago. Angola’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff, General Francisco Pereira Furtado, visited Zimbabwe last week.
"Most of the President’s close security people have been replaced," a source "within the military said. "Some of them have been with him for 10 or so years. There are at least 250 of them at the moment altogether."
Mugabe has apparently retained a few Zimbabwean soldiers including, so it said, those who leaked information about the coup and helped to suppress it.
Three of the senior soldiers said to have been fingered as being connected to the foiled coup have died since then. They are Brigadier General Armstrong Gunda and two generals, Taurai Lifa and Fakazi Mleya. The name of the former commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Retired General Solomon Mujuru, who is the husband of Vice President Joice Mujuru, has allegedly been linked to the coup attempt in June.
In Harare General Furtado said Angola would support Zimbabwe in any way necessary because Zimbabwe had played a significant role in Angola during that country’s protracted civil war.
"Zimbabwe played an instrumental role in the process that resulted in the current peace and stability in Angola. So, our generation should lay a firm political
foundation for generations to come," he was quoted as saying in the State newspapers.
Furtado met Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Air Force of Zimbabwe commander Air Vice Marshal Perrence Shiri, both men are close to Mugabe.
The source said another 1 500 Angolan soldiers were expected to arrive in the country before the end of August.
The ongoing succession battle within the ruling Zanu-PF party has left Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since 1980, exposed security wise.
"This has become a very sensitive issue in the army at the moment because some of the men who were replaced feel cheated by Mugabe. This issue is likely to create more friction within the army," said the source.
Efforts to get a comment from Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba or Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) Lieutenant Colonel Simon Tsatsi were fruitless
This is not the first time that Mugabe and Angola’s President Eduardo dos Santos have worked together militarily. In Angola Mugabe provided both military and logistical support to dos Santos’s then embattled government.
In 1998 Zimbabwean and Angolan troops were deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to prop up the beleaguered government of President Laurent Kabila, which was succumbing to the military might of an armed rebellion.
Following the assassination of Kabila, Mugabe dispatched Zimbabwean soldiers to protect Joseph Kabila, who took over from his father. It is reported that Zimbabwean soldiers still protect Kabila in the DRC years after civil war ended in the vast African country.