Retired Major General George Chiweshe: accused of handing down death sentences to 16 of the "mutining" soldiers
A fib, an untrue story was published on 02 December 2008 by an online publication claiming that some soldiers who were part of the "rioting" in Harare over the last four days were executed in Dzivaresekwa on Monday night. Apparently the executions were a result of death sentences passed down by Retired Judge George Chiweshe, who is also head of Zimbabwe's Electoral Commission.
First, the report, clearly cooked up, blundered by stating that the death warrants were signed by Mugabe just before midnight on Monday and the death sentences were immediately carried out.
First of all, Mugabe was in Doha on Monday night. He only came back home on Wednesday. So he could not have signed those death warrants. Second, the procedures of military courts in Zimbabwe do not allow room for such swift action in circumstances such as these, when the depth any conspiracy has to be established before action is taken against the whole group of plotters, not just some of them.
In fact, Sydney Sekeremayi, the minister of defence, unwittingly contradicted this story when he announced that a full investigation had been launched and the perpetrators would be brought to book. Meaning they have not been brought to "book" yet. He would have had no compunction about telling the nation that the soldiers who caused the mayhem had been "dealt with". If this was a genuine uprising, the statement would also have had the added bonus of putting people all over Zimbabwe at ease.
There were indeed three soldiers who were picked up towards dusk from the Fourth Street Bus Terminus by members of the Presidential Guard (they are the ones who wear orange berets) in full view of onlookers. Everyone who saw this reacted in the same way: "Vakomana havapone ava!" - "These guys will not survive this!" They were in a pick-up truck and the soldiers were asked to lie face-down at the back of the truck as it headed towards State House along Fourth Street.
Arrests are not made by the presidential guard unless there is a general mutiny by soldiers (in this case, there would be no one else to bring the mutinying soldiers to heel except a presidential guard, if it is still loyal to the sitting president whom it protects.) Arrests are made by the Military Police. So that should tell you something about what this was supposed to achieve, coming also as it did a full four days after soldiers had been doing exactly the same thing in town and going back to their barracks at the end of it to enjoy a good night's sleep.
There were also reports that appeared over the last few days saying some of the mutinying soldiers are still being held at the Central Police Station. These are obviously false. The military here in Zim prides itself on being able to deal with its own. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the army guys have no respect for the police guys whatsoever. I know for a fact that the term for the police amongst the military guys is "macardboard", a reference to the colour of the police uniform, which resembles the colour of the plain cardboard box.
The report also refers to Presidential Death Squads. No such thing exists in the Zimbabwean army. The MDC, who have experience of these matters first hand, will tell you who exactly carries out such things. It is not the presidential guards. The firing squad in the army, which carries out executions after court marshals does not, as far as I can verify, have any Presidential Guard members amongst its ranks.
This false story was brought to my attention by a reader and it boggles the mind just what the reporters thought they were doing. It is, in fact, so patently false that I investigated it's reporting a bit and a man I respect a lot, Robb Ellis, who runs the website The Bearded Man, (you will find the link to his site on the blogroll on this site) also expressed his doubts about its truthfulness.
Another whopper in this same story says that forex dealers at Roadport are working for the Reserve Bank! Yet we all know that the Reserve Bank actually goes to Roadport to buy foreign currency now and again. Why would they be buying foreign currency from their own people, whom they would have given foreign currency to sell at Roadport?!
It gets worse.
The online publication also claims that a certain named person is in charge of the foreign currency dealings of the Reserve Bank in conjunction with CIO officers at Atlas House! Any well-informed person will tell you that The Financial Intelligence guys at the Reserve Bank conduct the foreign currency deals on behalf of Gono And even they do it at an arm's length. They have a group of runners, a very small number (a futile effort to maintain confidentiality), who are given money straight from the RBZ when the need arises. These engage their own runners to scout the capital city for foreign currency on the streets. When this happens, every forex dealer knows about it, as happened at the beginning of last week and the US dollar always jumps in value against the Zimbabwe currency on the black market when Gono enters that world looking for foreign currency. It jumped last week and when Gono left the market two days later, it fell by 25%. Gono does not have people selling foreign currency on the black market and I am sure even the most simple-minded Zimbabwean would have a hard time believing that one! He NEEDS US dollars, why would he be selling them on the black market? It is imbecilic to even suggest that. I can't be bothered to examine this thing any longer, as I feel it would be a waste of your time and mine. To read Robb's reactions, you can click here
If you have a bit of time to kill, you can read this fiction by clicking here