Mugabe Prepares for Threat of Uprising by Arming Youth Militia with Iranian Arms
Basildon Peta in Johannesburg, Belfast Telegraph:
The Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is not taking lightly a respected cleric's call for a Ukrainian-style uprising to overthrow his regime. Sources close to Mr Mugabe said yesterday that the President had taken a last-minute decision to secretly arm thousands of party youth militias.
He has already readied troops in case the opposition heeds the call from Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, for a peaceful uprising to oust him from power if he steals tomorrow's ballot, as widely expected.
Archbishop Ncube is the Roman Catholics' second most senior cleric in Zimbabwe. His unprecedented call for a peaceful uprising to stop Mr Mugabe, whom he has branded a brutal crook who relies on ballot theft to cling to power, has seemingly energised a previously cowed populace.
The sources said that Mr Mugabe had ordered the army to provide the youth militias with weapons and maintain them in army barracks should their services be required.
The youth militias were indoctrinated at ruling party training camps across the country under a national youth service training programme.
Although they had been used previously to commit violent acts on Mr Mugabe's enemies, he had not integrated them with the army or provided them with heavy weaponry.
Mr Mugabe has also recalled retired soldiers and taken delivery of a consignment of arms from China and Iran to ensure the army is well-equipped. READ MORE
It is believed that about 40,000 militias had been trained in the youth camps. Up to 15,000 would have been roped into army barracks by now and supplied with heavy weaponry. Even if nothing happens after the election, they will be integrated into the army and police to ensure their loyalty, military sources said.
The Zimbabwe army and the defence ministry refused to comment.