Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(STICKY) (SUNDAY MAIL ZW) MDC-T’s hatchet job
Sunday, 19 May 2013 00:00
Sunday Mail Reporter

The MDC-T is doing a hatchet job for the British government by calling for the security sector reforms as the former colonial master has since the attainment of independence been trying to protect white interests in the country through military action, it has emerged.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, the Minister of Defence Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa put the calls by the MDC-T for security sector reforms into perspective by revealing for the first time that the British government almost engineered a coup in Zimbabwe just before the results for the 1980 elections were announced.

Since this failed coup, the British government has never been comfortable with a strong defence system in Zimbabwe and has been using Zimbabwean professionals, academics, civic organizations and sponsoring the MDC-T to call for the security sector reforms.

The revelations by Minister Mnangagwa were confirmed in a letter that until recently was classified as Top Secret that was written to the then British Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher by the head of the defence forces under the Ian Smith regime, General Peter Walls asking for permission to stage a coup in the country when it became clear that President Mugabe was heading for a resounding victory.

Minister Mnangagwa revealed that the coup failed to take place after President Mugabe who was the then Prime Minister-designate offered Peter Walls and his lieutenants jobs in the new government.

“We were aware of the plans to stage a coup by Walls because we had infiltrated their system through blacks who were serving them tea. These blacks would pretend that they were serving them tea while listening to the coup plans. They would then give me the information as I was the head of security at that time,” said the Minister.

He revealed that at one point matters came to a head after the Rhodesians dispatched their armored vehicles into the grounds of the University of Rhodesia where Cde Mugabe and other ZANU leaders were staying.

President Mugabe had to be secretly evacuated. “Rex (Cde Solomon Mujuru) was ready for a pre-emptive strike but we discouraged him because this would create the impression that we were the aggressors.

ZANU had sneaked in enough cadres to engage the Rhodesians in the city and besides, there was a standby force of about 5 000 fighters under the leadership of Cde Zvinavashe that was waiting in Mozambique,” said Minister Mnangagwa adding that he then informed Cde Mugabe about the planned coup.

He said a plan was hatched not to neutralize the coup militarily but through the temptation of office.

The decision to offer Walls and his lieutenants jobs was kept a secret and even the late Vice President Muzenda was not informed. The PM-designate then asked Cde Mnangagwa to reach out to the Rhodesian command element and call for a secret meeting at a safe house in Quorn Avenue in Mt Pleasant.

“I contacted Ian Smith’s son, Alec who was with the moral rearmament unit. Alec referred me to Stannard a senior operative with the then central intelligence who gave me numbers of the Rhodesian command. I rang Peter Walls to convey Cde Mugabe’s wish for a meeting at 9pm of March 2 1980.

“But i also insisted that Cde Mugabe was expecting only the top four lieutenants that is Peter Walls, Peter Alum (police), Air Marshal Wessels (air force) and Ken Flower (intelligence). All of them had to come in one car. In the meantime, I planted fully armed Zanla combatants in the hedge. “As an afterthought, Cde Mugabe indicated that he wanted to meet Ian Smith before meeting the commanders. I reached Ian Smith via his son and I told him that the PM-designate wanted to meet him. I told him that the PM-designate had said he should come with one person.

Smith then said ‘what about my security?’ to which I said ‘I have never known Smith to be afraid.” Smith then indicated that he would come with David Smith,” said Minister Mnangagwa. He said the meeting was slotted for 9pm and so the meeting with the commanders was moved to 10pm.

During his meeting with Ian Smith, Cde Mugabe announced that his party had won, upon which Smith quipped “I helped you win.” President Mugabe asked how, to which Smith said “As Ian Smith I stand for the defence of white interests and I did that consistently. I, however, worked with Chirau who deserted his people, wooed with Muzorewa, worked with Ndiweni, worked with Sithole and you Mugabe you are the only one whose hands I didn’t soil. So it was easy for your people to know who really represented their interests. That’s how I helped you.”

Minister Mnangagwa said the PM-designate then told Smith that he intended to make his address and announce a policy of reconciliation.

“Cde Mugabe said it would be desirable if Smith as leader of the whites would issue a statement to calm the nerves of whites. Smith agreed and later he issued the statement.

“After the departure of Smith, the commanders came and Cde Mugabe did not wast time. He addressed Walls first indicating that on the Patriotic Front there was Rex Nhongo, Dumiso Dabengwa and Cde Lookout Masuku who, whilst accomplished guerillas, had no experience leading a conventional force. He asked Walls if he would accept an offer of overall command of the national army of the new order.

“In utter surprise, Walls looked at his fellow commanders. Without saying a word, he stood up, donned his military cap, stood at attention and saluted the PM-designate accompanied by the words ‘I accept.” After this, the PM-designate turned to Wessels and offered him the command of the Air Force and, just like Walls, he agreed and did exactly what Walls had done. Next was Alum, who also agreed.

Lastly, the PM-designate turned to Ken Flower and said ‘Ken, this is Emmerson Mnangagwa, your counterpart. As my security chief, he tells me you have been sending me many bombs, some of which are still to explode in order to kill me. This is the man who frustrated your efforts and the man you will work with if you accept to serve under me. Ken accepted the offer and we drank tea and the commanders left. The strategy worked.

“A war had been avoided, thanks to Cde Mugabe’s preference for a non-military formula,” explained Minister Mnangagwa. In his letter dated March 1 1980 to Margaret Thatcher, Walls confirmed that indeed he wanted to engineer a coup by asking the British government to declare the 1980 elections null and void if Cde Mugabe won.

He further asked for permission to “provide, if necessary, the military conditions for an orderly and safe withdrawal of those people of all races who wish to take refuge in South Africa.”

In military terms, creating military conditions means creating conditions for a coup. Since the failure of this coup, the British government has over the years tried to destabilise the country’s defence forces and in recent years efforts to weaken the forces have been doubled. A few years ago, the British government even mooted efforts to invade Zimbabwe as the land reform exercise gathered momentum.

The Blair administration sought to establish bases for the invasion in countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique and all but one country agreed to co-operate with the British. In recents months, the British administration has been using Zimbabwean professionals such as Knox Chitiyo to compile policy documents calling for the reform of the security sector. The MDC-T then adopts these documents.

“The MDC-T is trying to finish what Peter Walls started and failed to do in 1980. Unlike the commanders from the Smith regime era, our defence forces are disciplined, they are professionals and they are patriotic. The puppets won’t succeed where the master has failed since 1980,” said a military expert from the University of Zimbabwe.

Next week, we will publish details how Peter Walls later hurriedly left the country, how a whole squadron of fighter jets was destroyed by Rhodesians opposed to integration and Margaret Thatcher’s response to Peter Walls’ request to stage a coup

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