Zim mumbles over US military base reports

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INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa

BY KUDAKWASHE TAGWIREYI
INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said Zimbabwe stood guided by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and the African Union (AU) on reports that the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was setting up a base in neighbouring Zambia.

Mutsvangwa said: “Zimbabwe respects the sovereign decisions made by all independent States. When it comes to regional security issues Zimbabwe is guided by collective decisions made by member States.”

Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Levit Mugejo added: “Address this issue to the Zambian embassy or the United States embassy. We cannot comment on something that we have heard in the media. There is a Sadc position and the African Union position on these issues.”

Reports on April 25 said AFRICOM would open an Office of Security Co-operation at the US embassy in Zambia.

A statement by the US embassy in Zambia revealed that the US had invested over US$8 million to assist in the pre-deployment training of Zambian battalions to be deployed on the United Nations Multidimensional Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic.

However, the setting up of an AFRICOM office in Zambia has divided opinion within Zambia.

“The New Heritage Party wishes to place on record, its strong misgivings about the announcement by the American General Peter Bailey that the American and the Zambian governments have agreed to establish and locate the AFRICOM, which is the military command centre for the US government against its enemies on the African continent, in Zambia,” the opposition New Heritage Party led by Chishala Kateka said.

AFRICOM is a combatant organ of the US defence department.

Sadc countries, including South Africa, have been uncomfortable having AFRICOM at their doorsteps.

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