Zanu PF’s love-hate relations with Israel

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THAT President-elect Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF cruised to a crushing, albeit hotly-disputed victory in last week’s general elections is the stuff only fiction writers blessed with the rare sense of the ironic and dramatic could have conjured up.

Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo

Mugabe’s triumph was reportedly engineered by an Israeli company Nikuv International Projects –– all the more reason why it is stranger than fiction considering his strong stance in support of the Palestinians who have been demanding independence from Israel which set up its state in disputed territory in 1948 with the assistance of his nemeses, the United States and Britain.

Prior to Zimbabwe’s Independence in 1980, the same Israelis sold weapons and military equipment to Ian Smith’s white minority government that fought Mugabe’s Zanla guerrilla army.

Israel also sold nuclear programmes to apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and 80s amid Zimbabwe’s diplomatic support for the then Yasser Arafat-led Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

In the 1980s, Mugabe’s government allowed the PLO to open offices in Harare and its long-serving ambassador Ali Halimeh was the darling of the state media as he rose to become dean of the diplomatic corps.

At some point in the 1990s, as Zanu PF upped its ante on land reform, Mugabe drew the ire of Jews when he delivered a blistering attack on Zimbabwe’s white commercial farmers for refusing to sell their land to the state saying they were “hard-hearted like the Jews”.

Israel and Zimbabwe have no resident ambassadors, but that has not prevented Mugabe from cutting deals with the Israelis behind the scenes.

The Israeli government has sold state-of-the-art heavy riot control equipment to Zimbabwe, with an Israeli expert on hand to train police to use it.

The equipment consists of the most advanced and effective riot control vehicles, including customised anti-riot tankers, which are vehicles carrying large water cannons.

The vehicles reportedly include surveillance cameras, microscopic laser guns and gas masks.

Nikuv reportedly supplied Zimbabwe with high-range technological equipment and is currently running the country’s minerals unit in Mutare where diamonds are being mined.

Nikuv, which has been working in Zimbabwe since 2000, provides a full range of security services and integrated solutions, such as electronic debugging services and counter surveillance to supply the plastic identification cards as well as the production of e-passports and handling voters’ roll and election results.

The country’s dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation has also undergone training conducted by Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.

In 2002, Zanu PF even hired controversial former Mossad operative Ari Ben Menashe to entrap MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was charged with treason for inciting violence and trying to overthrow Mugabe’s government.

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