Zimbabwe's presence in DRC 'terrible disaster' – Biti

KIGALI – When contacted on phone yesterday night, the Harare East Member of Parliament and chief negotiator of Zimbabwe's strong opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC), Tendai Biti strongly criticised the deployment of Zimbabwe's military in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC) – saying that it was a "terrible disaster."

The New Times sought a reaction from the MDC after revelations in an exclusive interview with Rene Abandi, National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) Foreign Affairs Commissioner. 

Abandi claimed Zimbabwe’s presence in the East DR Congo. "Zimbabweans and the FDLR are the ones that fight, government forces simply run away and we remain fighting. We have given this evidence to MONUC and they acknowledge this," he claimed.

"If Mugabe deployed the army in DR Congo then it’s a terrible disaster and a major setback to both the economy and the peace process," said Biti who also doubles as the MDC Secretary-General.

Biti questioned the auspices under which the Zimbabwe troops are operating in DR Congo adding that their (Zim troops) existence was illegal.

"Mugabe has no authority to deploy troops out of the country, at the moment, it is only the parliament that can endorse such a deployment," he said.

He also rushed on to say that currently, Zimbabwe is undergoing a serious financial crisis and that if Mugabe deployed to DR Congo, it would deepen the Zimbawe’s problems.

"DR Congo is not a priority to the Zimbabweans there is need to focus on more issues of national development than external issues," he said.

Zimbabwe is currently reeling under the world’s highest inflation at 231 million per cent, coupled with shortages of everything, from drugs in hospital, to basic food stuffs such as bread and clean water.

Meanwhile, there are increasing reports of deaths from the deadly water borne disease Cholera, in the urban areas of Harare.

Zimbabwe’s military adventures in the DR Congo, in 1998, had a heavy impact on the southern African country’s economy — today ordinary Zimbabweans are still counting the cost.

When contacted for comment Joe Felli, MONUC’s, Head of Office, in Kigali, said he was not aware of Zimbabwe’s presence in Congo, as he had just arrived from Kinshasa. He promised a follow up interview. Source: The New Times (Kigali)