Friday, September 16, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) WikiLeaks: Generals face court martial

WikiLeaks: Generals face court martial
16/09/2011 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

TWO senior officers who criticised Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) chief, General Constintine Chiwenga, dismissing him as an inexperienced political appointee during secret meetings with US diplomats could face a court martial, an army spokesman has confirmed.

Secret communications from the US embassy in Harare leaked by a whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks, show that Brigadier General Herbert Chingono, the Inspector General of the ZNA and Major General Fidelis Satuku, the ZDF Director General for Policy and Personnel, made the damning remarks about Chiwenga during separate private meetings with Ambassador Charles Ray between January 5 and 6 in 2009.

Army spokesman, Colonel Overson Mugwizi, said the army is now carrying out its own investigations as the fall-out from the WikiLeaks revelations begins to unravel.

“WikiLeaks is a new phenomenon. But in internal matters to do with discipline, we investigate and then take appropriate action,” Mugwizitold the Zimbabwe Independent on Friday . “Where there is need for public consumption of the findings, we make our findings public. In this case we are likely to do that.”

Mugwizi said the officers were still reporting for duty but admitted that they could be court martialed, depending on the outcome of the investigations.

“Normally as the military, we don’t take time investigating. We will be advised by the outcome,” he said. “Court-martialling depends on the nature of the offence. Investigations will determine the next plan of action. They are (the generals) at work – remember you are innocent until proven guilty.”

Satuku and Chingono explained to Ambassador Ray the power dynamics in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, the senior officers’ links to Zanu PF and involvement in violence during the disputed 2008 elections.

They allegedly dismissed Chiwenga as a “political General” with “little practical military experience or expertise”.

Ambassador Ray admitted that the officers had taken grave personal risk in agreeing to meet him adding they could easily be charged with treason.

“These two serving military officers took a grave personal risk meeting with us, and their identities should be strictly protected,” Ray wrote after the meetings.

“In the current environment, they risk being charged with treason for an unsanctioned meeting with US officials, and that could have fatal consequences.”

Chingono was the last Zimbabwe National Army commander to train at the United States National Defence University under the International Military Education and Training programme, while Satuku received his military training in Britain.

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