Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has deployed agents of the country’s Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) to Botswana to investigate allegations that Botswana is training youths of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to destabilise Zimbabwe, the local press reported.
Botswana and Zimbabwe have traded accusations over the alleged training of the militant youths, forcing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene.
Botswana’s President Ian Khama is a relentless critic of his Zimbabwean counterpart, and has been calling for fresh presidential elections in Zimbabwe while vowing not to recognize Mugabe as the president of Zimbabwe.
The Botswana media, quoting intelligence sources, said Zimbabwe deployed its first batch of intelligence operatives into Botswana on 17 November 2008, and that the intelligence operatives will remain in Botswana for three months, compile information and report back for Mugabe’s “consideration and possible action”.
“About 50 senior officers were deployed into Botswana on Monday (17 Nov) for a three-month period,” a senior CIO source based at Magnet House in Bulawayo, was reported to have said.
The Magnet House is said to be the provincial headquarters of the CIO.
“They are expected to provide weekly reports to headquarters, before compiling a joint final report that will be handed over to the President upon completion of their mission,” the source said.
Teams of spies
The intelligence officers, who are said to be operating in 10 separate teams that will cover different locations in Botswana, were reportedly drawn from various provinces in Zimbabwe, with Harare and Bulawayo providing the bulk.
The operation is said to have been a recommendation of the Joint Operation Command (JOC) after a meeting in Harare.
The Zimbabwean government is said to believe that when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai stayed in Botswana briefly before the presidential elections in June, he had negotiated a “Plan B” with the country’s leader, in case the MDC lost the elections.
The alleged ‘Plan B’ is said to be the training of the MDC youth for military action against Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean government also believes that some retired army and police officers might be involved in conducting the training of MDC youth in Botswana.
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean living in Botswana has confirmed the reports of CIO operatives being deployed to Botswana.
“I met a man I know originally in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. He is a CIO guy and I personally know him and he knows me too. This is getting out of hand, any Zimbabwean living in Botswana can be implicated as MDC military trainee,” the man told PANA on the condition of anonymity
”When I met the man, I pretended not to see him and I don’t know if he saw me,” the man said.
However, there has been no comment from the Botswana or Zimbabwe government on the matter.