The President's secret bid to beef up his army with Russian troops
Zimbabwe's President and his family are officially on holiday, and currently enjoying their usual privileged vacation in Singapore, where they have many friends. But on January 17 Robert Mugabe is due to board a jet for Moscow, where he will finalise plans to bring in Russian troops to defend his tottering regime.
According to a top government source, all the preliminary plans for a Russian military presence in Zimbabwe have been made during the past few weeks. In Moscow Mugabe , who hasn't visited Russia since 1987, will meet with President Medvedev and his puppet master Prime Minister Putin, to finalise the deal that will have hundreds of Russian army personnel landing at Harare airport in the near future.
The arrangement is supposed to be kept quiet. The troops will come in the guise of technicians exploring diamond mining opportunities in the country. But diamonds are just a part of the deal Mugabe is brokering with Putin. The troops are really there to bolster Zimbabwe's defences against possible invasion.
As I have reported here before, while many of my more outspoken readers think the chance of a liberation force crossing the borders from Botswana or Zambia is just wishful thinking, Mugabe and his advisors take the threat very seriously indeed. They have listened to the calls for action emanating from Desmond Tutu and leaders of certain Southern African states. And they are taking the necessary precautions.
The deal will also include what might be described as Zimbabwe's friendly neighbours, Angola and Namibia, with the three countries combining their strength under the guidance of Moscow's military experts.
Zimbabwe's own troops, who recently rioted in the streets of Harare against their appalling living conditions, have been pacified partly by the distribution of substantial rations. Elephant meat, to be precise. So, whatever the outcome of a Russian military presence in Zimbabwe may be, one thing is certain - Putin's soldiers will experience a radical change in diet.