CHINESE MILITARY CYBER UNIT IN ZIMBABWE ELECTIONS?



On Monday, 21 May 2018 at around 7:30 in the evening, two private jets out of Mozambique landed at Charles Prince airport on the outskirts of Harare. On Board were 16 Chinese nationals, nine of whom are, according to sources, employees of Guangdong Information Technology Security Evaluation Centre.

This comes as we are also being informed that, since the call for people to verify their registration online, the electronic database has come under two unsuccessful attempts to breach it. Credit for that level of security is being given by my sources to the team from Guangdong Information Technology Security Evaluation Centre. It is claimed they are the most sophisticated cyber security experts in the world, feared even by American cyber experts.

GITSEC is a contractor of the Chinese People's Army. Also on board were Electrical Engineering University staff, a institution of higher learning for China's armed forces.  "No doubt at all, three of the guys that are from Unit 61398, which a delegation from Zimbabwe had met in March in Pudong, Shangai," said our source, referring to the super-secretive cyber warfare unit of the Chinese People's Army.

The sources claim that they have been told the group is helping to ensure the security and integrity of Zimbabwe's electoral system in the wake of the BVR exercise, a new system that involves quite a bit of technology.

Official Zimbabwe government sources laughed this off when I tried to confirm with them.

My sources claim that they have brought this issue to the attention of two local newspapers, a weekly and a daily. But they have not bothered to pursue the story.

"It is not a coincidence that these guys arrived three weeks after Nelson Chamisa said if he wins the elections, he will kick out the Chinese and nullify tens of billions of dollars' worth of agreements and investments signed between ED and the Chinese. But the authorities are saying they needed to make sure that this BVR roll is tamper proof, especially as it will also be online."

The sources believe strongly that the Chinese need to safeguard their future in the country and this is definitely one way in which they can do this. Their expertise in this field is legendary and led the American government to call a truce with the Chinese government after Washington failed to contain their onslaught. The Americans resorted to signing an agreement that restricted the Chinese to "cyber warfare" to the corporate and commercial world, specifically forbidding the activities against government entities. The Americans had to promise to also stop their cyber attacks on the Chinese government. So, yes, this is a super, super-effective group, folks, out of the Chinese People's Army, so effective they basically forced the Americans to sign a surrender document. (That bit of information, by the way, is public knowledge and can easily be found).

Relations between Zimbabwe and China have always been rosy, but were stifled under former president Robert Mugabe because of what the Chinese characterised to Mnagagwa during his State Visit as "unpredictability, trust issues and condoning of corrupt activities" that prejudiced Chinese investments in the country.

The Chinese team currently in Zimbabwe is due to fly out by mid-July and will, thereafter, offer remote and online assistance should need arise, say the sources.

The authorities, apparently, are adamant that this was a necessary exercise because of the advance of technology and Zimbabwe's vulnerable presence in the Global Village. There was from, what I understand, a genuine fear that certain elements, especially opposition elements, could tamper with the roll electronically, either on a constituency by constituency basis, or nationally.

The entire team is based in Harare, is not booked at a hotel and is rarely seen in public. Sources say they are staying in the Mazowe area, although it is not known where exactly. I am also told that Mazowe was chosen because there is some sort of satellite facility in the area.

It sounds like it may well be nothing but the authorities trying to protect the electoral process. And perhaps even the secrecy, if true, is understandable. If they disclose, (if this is true), then, you have shouts of "NIKUV!"even if it is just an innocent effort to protect the electoral process and voters' roll. Damned if they do. Damned if they don't.


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