USAID Local Employees Arrested in Zimbabwe

Air Force Commander Air Marshal Perence Shiri (middle)
Photo from newzimbabwe.com

As best as I could trace this ridiculous story, it started in mid December when newzimbabwe.com reported that Zimbabwe’s Air Force Commander Air Marshal Perence Shiri survived an attempt on his life. This is the same Perence Shiri who according to reports was the commander of the North Koeran-trained 5 Brigade army unit which was deployed in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions in 1982 to hunt down alleged dissidents. At the end of its activities, in 1986, human rights groups say 20 000 civilians were dead, thousands more missing and others displaced.

Shiri was reportedly hospitalised after suffering a gunshot wound to his arm, a senior official from Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu PF party told the website. Shiri, driving alone in his official car, is said to have been leaving his farm in Mashonaland West Province on Saturday night when he was ambushed. “He came under fire from a sizeable number of professional hitmen. He survived the attack, although he was shot on the arm,” the official said, speaking on condition he is not named.

Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the attack on Shiri, who was alone at the time, appeared to be “a build-up of terror attacks targeting high-profile persons, government officials, government establishments and public transport systems”. Mohadi also said the attack on Shiri, 53, “showed the assailants were well trained and there was a clear attempt to destabilise the country through acts of terrorism”.

Mohaid’s pronouncements is kind of like the equivalent of the red/severe level in DHS’s homeland security threat advisory, only more cranky. One for the Huh? News, you think?

Let’s see — a top military official was driving alone (It’s Africa people, what happened to military escorts and aides?), he came under attack by “professional hitmen,” (I wonder if they’re the Fargo kind) and he was hit on the arm (or the palm of his hand in some other reports; apparently they’re “well trained”).

Borat could do a better job with this material if only Zim has not gone bat crazy.

On January 22, Frank Muchirahondo, a driver for USAID was arrested accused of shooting Air Force Commander Perence Shiri; Muchirahondo is facing attempted murder charges. Another USAID employee Daniel Mlenga, has apparently also been arrested.

Muchirahondo’s lawyer Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook said bail was denied and his client’s application could not be heard and that the matter was postponed until February 24.

The US embassy has reportedly issued a statement condemning Muchirahondo’s arrest and dismissing all allegations against the employee saying he was among other employees doing humanitarian work for the organisation at the time of the shooting. I could not locate any statement in state.gov or Embassy Harare’s website. If you have a link to the official statement, please let me know.

In the meantime, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) has released a statement: The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO is deeply concerned and condemns the failure by the political parties to ensure the release of Jestina Mukoko, the Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Frank Muchirahondo and Daniel Mlenga, both USAID employees, and many other prisoners of conscience from Chikurubi Prison and other places of detention. We strongly believe that they are being held on frivolous, trumped-up political charges, which have no substance at law. Further, it is becoming increasingly evident that political prisoners were used as mere pawns by the political protagonists for political leverage.

Robert “Zimbabwe is mine” Mugabe must be getting his state of play from the Marcos playbook. When Ferdinand Marcos was in power, General Fabian Ver, his cousin, was the Philippines AFP Chief of Staff and his most trusted general (later implicated in the assassination of Benigno Aquino). Gen. Perence Shiri is as well, a cousin of Robert Mugabe and has been named the prime mover over the military’s ugly fight over the diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.

Power, money and perpetual rule – they can eat raw at a man’s soul and before long, nothing exist but an abject cast of a man lost for all eternity.

Lost, er unless, they put you in a refrigerated crypt like this one, or in trading cards like this one.


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