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Gov issues conflicting statements on military convoy

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Gov issues conflicting statements on military convoy

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GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA/ SIMBARASHE MTEMBO
MIRROR REPORTERS

MASVINGO – Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba and two military spokespersons have given conflicting statements on the destination of a heavily guarded military haulage trucks convoy that entered the country at night through Beitbridge Border Post on Sunday.
The contingent which went through the Beitbridge VIP section, got into Masvingo just after midnight and drove towards Mutare raised eyebrows with many people calling Masvingo Mirror to find out the contents and destination of the convoy.
In Masvingo, all intersections along Robert Mugabe Ave were heavily guarded by Military Police as the contingent passed through.
Sources who contacted The Mirror said President Mnangagwa is on high alert against possible civil unrest steered by reports of high-level corruption at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and other public entities. Sources said the contingent was destined for one of the Zimbabwe barracks.
There is also speculation about military assistance that President Mnangagwa asked for from the Russian President Vladimir Putin having arrived already.
However, a statement from the office of the Minister of Defence, Oppah Kashiri said this was part of a Lesotho Defence Forces convoy that entered Zimbabwe through Nyamapanda Border Post on its way from Mozambique to Lesotho.
Meanwhile, a statement by Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) spokesperson Colonel Alphios Makotore gave a different destination and said that the Lesotho Defence Forces convoy was coming from Lesotho and going to Mozambique.
Charamba said the trucks were transporting food rations to ZNA members that are currently doing drills across the country.
“It was an escort for army food rations. It’s normal for the Military Police to escort such cargo. We hold drills this time of the year in different places of the country so, we were transporting food rations to the areas. If they were weapons why would we let them pass through South Africa?
“We have no need to arm ourselves and I keep repeating that when the President was in Russia he raised complaints against the behavior of the US in the region. The reference to Zambia was coincidental not intentional. Zambia is our good neighbour,” said Charamba.
“The Lesotho Defence Forces convoy spent the night of June 17, 2024 on their way to Beitbridge Border Post. The Botswana Defence Force and Lesotho Defence Forces requested to use the territory of the Republic of Zimbabwe as part of their movement plan as they were withdrawing from the SADC mission in Mozambique,” said the statement from Muchinguri’s office.
“It is not true that the convoy of military trucks you saw was ferrying weapons. The military convoy you witnessed passing through Beitbridge Border Post was a contingent from Lesotho Defence Forces. It was on its way to Mozambique.
“The convoy passed through Masvingo and Mutare. It then exited the country through Forbes Border Post into Mozambique on its way to Cabo Delgado Province where the Lesotho Defence forces are deployed on military operations.
“You will be informed of any other movements of the military convoy, however without compromising security regulations on such matters,” said Colonel Makotore.
A statement on the International Crisis Group website, on May 8, 2024 shows that Lesotho and Botswana troops left Cabo Delgado in April this year and the two countries have no troops in the war torn region. International Crisis Group is an independent organisation working to prevent wars and shape policies that build a more peaceful world.
Lesotho was part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) operating in Cabo Delgado to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism.
“In January, SADC said it would withdraw the force when its current mandate expires on 15 July. Botswana and Lesotho pulled out in April, while Angola and Namibia are packing up now,” reads part of a statement on the organisation’s website.

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