SA army gave intelligence to Mugabe
May 2, 2008
(JOHANNESBURG, The Sunday Times) - Top-secret military intelligence reports about Robert Mugabe’s political rivals are among a stash of documents handed over to his regime by the South African National Defence Force — shortly before the signing of a military pact between the two countries.
A detailed index of the documents — of which the Sunday Times has a copy — is contained in papers before the Pretoria High Court, where a prominent human rights organisation is fighting for access to them.
The classified documents were handed back to Zimbabwe in December 2004 shortly after a Johannesburg academic applied to view them.
The transfer was authorised by the then head of the armed forces, General Siphiwe Nyanda, on the grounds that the documents had been illegally obtained — and were therefore not South African property. No copies were made, according to an affidavit submitted to court.
The transferred documents — entitled Afdeling Militêre Inligting Group 4 (‘the Group 4 records’) — include files on informants who worked against Mugabe’s liberation movement, the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu), as well as a file entitled “Zanu Propaganda”.
There are also dozens of files on the Zimbabwean African People’s Union (Zapu), which was Mugabe’s main rival in the south of Zimbabwe before independence.
Other files cover operational matters ranging from interrogation to military manoeuvres. They originate from Rhodesian Military Intelligence records and cover a period from the early 1960s to the late 1970s.
Piers Pigou, director of the South African History Archive, who lodged the High Court application, said some of the files were “potentially deadly” if named informants were still alive. He said it was unclear where the files had ended up because there was no sign of them at the Zimbabwean national archives. He also asked why no copies had been made when similar documents returned to Namibia had been copied and stored on microfilm.
“We believe the politics of this is more about an attempt to curry favour with the Zimbabwe security and intelligence establishment,” Pigou said.
In its affidavit, his organisation says the Defence Department subverted “constitutional and legislative obligations” by transferring the documents — in part because they form part of South Africa’s archival heritage: “These records are valuable tools in researching and understanding the history of destabilisation in the region.”
The Department of Defence declined to comment this week, saying the matter was sub judice.
However, a court affidavit authorised by Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota claims the documents were handed over to avoid diplomatic “embarrassment” to South Africa and “in keeping with the archival principle that official government records remain the property of the originating country and its people”.
“The records … had been obtained unofficially by the military intelligence division of the South African Defence Force in 1980. These records were transferred to the department’s archives in 1993 along with a large number of military intelligence files for safekeeping,” the affidavit said.
The files were handed over to officials at the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria.
University of Cape Town historian Professor Chris Saunders said the files should never have been sent back without a copy being made.
“While most are about Zimbabwe’s history . .. there are also files relating to South Africa and Namibia. Among the latter are files on Swapo and the Caprivi,” Saunders said.
- Beaver Shaw
- Nairobi, Kenya
- I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011
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