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Zimbabwe military chiefs face treason charges

Friday September 16 2011

By Kitsepile Nyathi, Nation Correspondent in Harare

The Zimbabwean army is investigating two commanders after a leaked US diplomatic cable claimed they volunteered information about the southern African country’s military.

A weekly newspaper, the Zimbabwe Independent on Friday said Major General Fidelis Satuku and Brigadier General Herbert Chingono were likely to be court marshalled on treason charges.

The two were quoted in the cable dispatched by US ambassador to Zimbabwe Charles Ray in January last year saying army commander General Constantine Chiwenga was a “political general.”

An uncensored version of the cable was released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks at the end of last month.

Satuku and Chingono, whom the army said were still reporting for duty “because they were innocent until proven guilty”, said Chiwenga had “little practical military experience.”

Chiwenga, the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), is a staunch supporter of President Robert Mugabe.

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He is one of the generals who have refused to salute Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and vowed to stop him from taking over from President Mugabe.

There have been reports that he has presidential ambitions of his own.

Army commander Colonel Overson Mugwizi told the Zimbabwe Independent that the ZDF would have to thoroughly investigate the case before deciding the next course of action.