ZNA guards Congo’s
LONDON - A
detachment of the Zimbabwean Presidential Guard is now providing close security
for the youthful Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Joseph Kabila. It
is not known why General Kabila has decided to put his life into the hands of
the Zimbabwean National Army (ZNA) rather than those of Congolese
The Presidential Guard
detachment is under the command of Lt. Colonel Richard Sauter, a 5th dan Tai
Kwando expert and formerly the Guard’s unarmed combat trainer. Sauter is known
to have spent several years in North Korea, and has several medals in the sport
of Tai Kwando.
According to highly placed sources in Harare, only a few
people in the NA are aware of this unusual arrangement concerning this
additional role of the Zimbabwean Presidential Guard. It is not clear how long
the soldiers have been performing these duties, whether they are being paid in
their personal capacities, whether other individuals in the ZNA are receiving
payment or whether there is a government-to-government agreement and how payment
is being effected under the terms of such an agreement.
guarding Kabila numbers about 50 men, said the sources. However, their outfit is
not renowned for its bravery. When President Mugabe’s residence was attacked in
the early 1980s by disenchanted Zipra cadres, most of them took to their heels
while the Police Support Unit mounted a spirited resistance.
Kabila’s father, Laurent Kabila (who shot his way to power during a rebellion
against the corrupt and tyrannical rule of Mobutu Sese Seko), was killed by a
member of his personal bodyguard. He was flown to Harare for emergency medical
treatment after the attack, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
his death, Kabila’s regime had been propped up for a number of years by
thousands Zimbabwean, Namibian and Angolan troops, who fought against Ugandan
and Rwandese-backed rebels. For several years, in the late 1990’s, there were up
to 11 000 Zimbabwean troops in the DRC – costing the country an estimated
US$1million a day to equip, feed and transport.
Just this week President
Mugabe announced that the country’s defence forces would be buying more weapons
from China and other Asian countries “to replace equipment destroyed in the wars
we have been involved in”.
It has never been officially revealed how the
services to the DRC were paid for, but a United Nations report on massive
looting of diamond mines in the country named a number of key political and
military figures in Zimbabwe.
It is common knowledge that the ZNA owns a
diamond mining company, Osleg, in partnership with ruling party ministers, which
is operational in the DRC.
The sources said an American national, who has
interests in the diamond business, had recently moved to Harare where two former
ZNA generals and top members of Zanu (PF) have been seen going in and out.
“The American (name supplied) is the grandson of a well-known American
film star who made his name in a number of B-grade cowboy movies a generation
ago,” said the source.
“He has a 250 kva transformer to provide
electricity for his extensive low-density suburb property. Why so much power?
Are they perhaps processing diamonds on the premises?” he asked.
be that the Presidential Guard is not so much keeping Kabila safe, as keeping an
eye on him on behalf of their commander-in-chief?