Mugabe, seen here in conversation with the Director-General of the Secret Police (CIO), Happyton Bonyongwe and Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga
An attack on Botswana by Robert Mugabe is looking increasingly likely as it emerges that the Zimbabwean dictator has put in place advanced plans for carrying out a long war from outside the borders of Zimbabwe.
What is immediately clear is that, despite Mugabe's bluster, he is aware that an international force would be able to eject from Zimbabwe, if not capture him. So far, Mugabe has managed to get the backing of Angola and Namibia in his advanced plans.
It is also emerging that some weapons belonging to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces are currently in Angola. These weapons are not in transit, but are actually being kept there in what sounds suspiciously like a stockpile.
It is reliably understood that President Dos Santos has assured Mugabe that if things get bad in Zimbabwe, he would be able to use the route that runs from Angola to Namibia and into Zimbabwe through the Caprivi Strip to launch a counter-attack.
There has been a flurry of activity between Luanda and Harare in the last four to five weeks, activities that even diplomats stationed in Harare are aware of but have not yet grasped. One assumption from sources within the ruling party is that the weapons that were never offloaded in South Africa earlier this year could be the ones being kept in Angola.
Angola and Namibia are amongst the staunchest supporters of Zimbabwe within SADC. Angola itself is virtually a military state, with the generals in that country holding so much power that they are, in reality, the real power behind Dos Santos.
Namibia has traditionally been an ally of Mugabe as a result of the close ties between the two countries dating back to Namibia fight for independence from South Africa.
Mugabe is currently pursuing the option of leading a coalition into Botswana to destroy what he says are bases set up by the MDC in the southern African country. But there is also increasing fear within ZANU PF itself that the reason behind this pursuit of Botswana could be that country's diamond wealth. Several generals and politicians made a killing in the DRCongo through looting the mineral resources of that country in the confusion occasioned by Mugabe's "coalition" invading there to prop up Joseph Kabila Snr.
Mugabe's plan apparently involves setting up camps and bases in the jungles of Angola and the forests of northern Namibia in the event that foreign forces invade Zimbabwe to topple him. The issue has been discussed three times so far by the Joint Operations Command (JOC), the military body that is essentially running Zimbabwe now in the absence of a properly constituted government. Already, there are ZANU PF militias being trained in Zimbabwe, locally known as Green Bombers from the colours of their uniforms.
Mugabe is also understood to have spoken to the president of Mozambique to sound him out on that country's willingness to host "an exiled Zimbabwean army." The sounding out was done during the Zimbabwe military trip to Maputo last month in which they presented their "case" of insurgency against Botswana and the MDC. Mugabe is aware that an invasion of Botswana at whatever scale would immediately elicit a militar response from the West, designed to dislodge him not just from Botswana, but from the seat of government in Harare.
Sources in ZANU PF and the military say that the exact quantities of Zimbabwean arms in Luanda are not known and could be considerably more than the shipment that was refused permission to offload in South Africa earlier this year.
A team of Zimbabwe's military leaders, including at least two well-known generals, has been to Angola and Namibia in the last three weeks, with sources claiming that they had gone there to scout: look at locations and draw up plans that have to be submitted to Mugabe before the first of January 2009. This is only days away and I believe it shows just how advanced the contigency plans Mugabe has in place are.
Mugabe's plans come at a time when he is increasingly belligerent, saying of the call by the international community for African countries to send troops into Zimbabwe, "I don't know if there is one of them who is brave enough to do that." I fully expect that, before the week is out, I should be able to give you even more details.