Zimbabwe: Concerns Growing within Government About An Attack on Botswana

Zimbabwe's feared 5th Brigade parading in 1992

The people of Zimbabwe have no idea just what a knife edge they are sitting on at the moment. No, scratch that. We are sitting on thousands of tonnes of dry dynamite. And the match to light the fuse is in the shaking hands of an 84 year old ballie.

There are moderate voices in government and the ruling party who say that the fatalist mood amongst the top brass of the defense forces bodes ill for the Tswanas. People like Paradazyi Zimondi and Constantine Chiwengwa are sounding pretty contemptuous of fate. Zimondi was telling a colleague last week, " Ndakafa kare ini, hapana chandinotya. Zvitori nani munhu ufe uchiuyara mutengesi wacho iyeye" Meaning he considers himself a walking corpse and The Hague holds terror for him, that he would rather die killing the "sellout."

From within the party some moderate members are beginning to fear that, with the ready willingness expressed by the armed forces chiefs to be let loose on Botswana, Mugabe may well be convinced that the only way to end this is an invasion. I wrote here a month ago about Mugabe's man, George Charamba, spewing venom in The Herald, saying of Botswana, "They stand no chance."

A source who has been in the army since the days of the liberation war says "if these guys are told to go today, they will just go." Which means that the real decision lies with Mugabe within JOC. Some in ZANU PF say they are hopeful that he will look carefully at the political cost of a war with Botswana.

Yes, as things stand right now, the Botswana army will not last 48 hours in face to face combat with the Zimbabwe Defence Force. But that would spell the end of Mugabe's government. Unilateral action is out of the question precisely because of that. Unless, of course, your name is Robert Mugabe and you are an unpredictable man who sometimes defies logic.

Mugabe is hoping that he can convince SADC to put together an "Allied Force" to deal with Botswana much like the one Mugabe himself led into the DRC to prop up Joseph Kabila Snr. That army has to enter Botswana. It has to actually fight. You need a bit more than "evidence" to do that. 

Which is why we have the waves of "violence, abudctions, bombings and mutinies by soldiers." And Air Force Marshal is attacked, police stations bombed, soldiers paid to stage riots in order to pave the way for insurgents, Morgan Tsvangirai running away to Botswana (where he was seen joking with Botswana's Ambassador to Zimbabwe at the Gaborone Sun yesterday by the way), "fearing to return on account of the crimes he knows he committed." Of course, SADC has to be convinced that there is already a low-intensity war in Zimbabwe.

You can expect that bomb blasts will get more spectacular in the Christmas and New Year. And, always, in each of those blasts, no person will be killed. Still, the point would have been made. War is raging in Zimbabwe, SADC you must constitute an Allied Force or give Zimbabwe a free hand to defend itself.

Those, basically are the two options Mugabe is pursuing. Either go in with a coalition or get a mandate from SADC to do all that is necessary to "defend" the country of Zimbabwe.

This is "foreign policy".

Domestic policy is very much connected to this. A state at war will necessarily have to be governed through martial law. Mugabe seems determined to emulate what he calls "The Chinese Ideal." As you all know, the Chinese Communist Party (one of two entities Mugabe admires above all else, the other being Fidel Castro) has managed to thrive by loosening controls on capitalism while tightening the noose on chinese society 

Privately, Mugabe is telling his party members that this is the final volley designed to entrench ZANU PF in power. A state of emergency will allow unprecedented controls on Zimbabwe by Mugabe. He is especially keen on the implementation of martial law with regards to economic crimes and he believes that will cure the ills facing the country. So death sentences then to forex dealers and "economic saboteurs." 

In my article on this blog on 01 December in which I broke the story of the State of emergency I also told you that this was part of the plan: the SoE Mugabe wants will be to enable him to govern without the MDC and, secondly to fight the "economic war against the west" using live bullets and the gallows.

What ZANU PF moderates are pinning their hopes on now is that SADC does not give Mugabe either of the above two options. They reckon if that happens, Mugabe will realise that going it alone without even the backing of SADC will bring in western forces who will obliterate his regime in a heartbeat. 

This may hold him back on the "foreign policy" front. In domestic policy, however, it will be business as usual. State of Emergency, martial law and the establishment of the one-party state which Mugabe, speaking in 1991, said "I am an apostle of......"


  1. Military action is the most usual route for a tyrant to distract the domestic population from the ills of the country. We in America certainly know that better than anyone. And thanks to the American tyrant, Mugabe can say that unilateral "pre-emptive" action is justified when the "threat" is great enough.

  2. My God, JollyRoger I had not thought of that at all. You are right, President Bush and Tony Blair did indeed set a precedent in modern international conflicts.

    The unilateral action against Iraq, especially, resulted in Russia feeling bold enough to give Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia a bloody nose, claiming he started the aggression.

    What I fear is that this may be the reasoning within the deluded ZANU PF. They should not forget that they are not as strong as Russia.

    Then again, America now knows to go to the United Nations first to ask for a force to go into Botswana and dislodge Mugabe should he invade.

    Russia and China will obviously not even listen to the merits of the case and simply say no.

    The question then becomes: should the USA and Britain decide they will go the unilateral route after that, will Russia and China commit men and arms to Mugabe's cause?

    That would stop the American and British stone cold, they would be risking a world conflagration otherwise.

    BUT: I think sense will prevail, Mugabe knows how much the Americans and British are itching to hit him and hit him hard. He must surely remember Grenada, a country whose head of state is the queen of England but which Ronald Reagan attacked anyway. Without even giving the British notice.

    President Bishop was killed in that attack. All the British did was clear their throats disapprovingly.

    So, although I see the danger, I think Mugabe can not be that dumb. It would be the end of him.

  3. This will only work if we have the money to invade Botswana. I have said here that Grace's one woman "Look East" policy might cost as much as it would cost to invade one of our neighbours!

  4. @Ben, despite all our obsession of making a joke out of everything, we Zimbabweans must realise that this is no joke.

    Money for war will always be found, even if it means cutting off all imports of electricity etc.

    It is no laughing matter this.

  5. Denford is right ... Tsvangirai and his team do make stinking blunders. I have never heard of an opposition party anywhere with sitting MPs and Mayors that SPEAKS in threats and calls for sanctions as if it is operating from exile. I know that the Zimbabwean political arena is hardly civil but, as Magora indicates, this is bad strategy. Any further suffering of the people of Zimbabwe in another election will be a direct responsibility of the MDC leadership.


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