Zimbabwe troops in action in the Congo
Mugabe sends in the military - and will reap rich rewards
Despite official denials I can confirm today that Zimbabwe soldiers have been sent once again into the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, and are fighting alongside President Joseph Kabila's army against the Rwanda-backed rebels of General Laurent Nkunda.
Sources told me today, Monday, that more than 3,000 of our troops are already in action in Goma, the DRC's volatile eastern province, and many more are expected to be on their way within days.
Kabila is said to have appealed for help from both Zimbabwe and Angola several weeks ago, after his own troops failed to defeat Nkunda and his forces.
Mugabe was quick to respond, for the usual reason - his involvment will be rewarded with choice pickings amongst the Congo mineral deposits, which include diamonds, gold and copper. This trick of exchanging troops for treasure has enriched him and his cohorts in the past, and will do so once again.
This is why, officially, Zimbabwe is not involved in the conflict. Spokesman Bright Matonga told me: "We have nothing to do with the DRC war. The rumours are false We have no interest in it. We have our own problems to deal with."
That last bit is true enough. But three sources within the armed forces confirmed today that the rumours are true.
"We began sending troops early last week," said one. "Previously they had been in training for a month. We expect that we will deploy up to 10,000 troops during the next three months, if the war continues."
Mugabe must hope it will do so. Of course, while it will personally enrich him,the actual cost of the commitment will only further impoverish the country. But what does that matter to our President. Inflation, health care, education, the economy...all these things may pass away. But as someone once said - and Mugabe knows well - diamonds are forever.
And now - a quick follow-up
Further to my earlier posting about the resurgence of PF-Zapu, and the resulting threat of a major split in Zanu-PF, there was a sight for sore eyes outside Magnet Building in our second city of Bulawayo at the end of last week.
The building was once the property of PF-Zapu. Then, when Mugabe enfolded the party into a so-called government of national unity in 1980, it, together with all PF-Zapu holdings, was nationalized. But then, last week, the party took it back.
In doing so they evicted the present occupants. Who were they? None other than officers of our dreaded secret police, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
Thus Bulawayo passers-by were treated to the unique sight of government spies being virtually kicked out on the street by PF-Zapu members.
The movement to re-establish PF-Zapu as a political party continues to gain momentum. Watch this space!