Sunday, March 02, 2014

Proxy War in Southern Africa

Andre Willers  

3 Feb 2014  

Hi ,

Proxy war in SA 
The US had a very large air base near Gaborone in the Apartheid days to project power and evacuation if things went pear shaped . See below .

These are now being refurbished to counter Chinese influence , especially in Zimbabwe .

Also , a possible break-up of RSA , with a little help from its friends .
Lots of vultures about .

Interesting times




US army builds P100m facility at Thebephatshwa air base

by Sunday Standard Reporter

Botswana Government has given the American military permission to start construction of facilities inside the Thebephatshwa air base, the United States Embassy in Gaborone has confirmed.

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board Chairman, Poppy John has however said her Board has neither been involved in the award nor adjudication of the contract which is overseen by Trust Building & Maintenance Construction Company.

The facilities which will cost close to P100 million will be the first known involvement of American military presence inside Thebephatshwa.

Since its inception, the premier air base, which is also a key security entry point, has been dogged by international speculation that it was a proxy American asset.

During the base’s early days there were also allegations of French involvement, all of them strenuously denied by Botswana Government.

Thebephatshwa military airbase is often adduced by international detractors including in Southern Africa and the continent at large that Botswana is an American client state.

Under pressure to prove non-American involvement the Government of Botswana has in the past conducted international media tours across the base to sell the storyline that there was no American presence inside the installation.

While no tangible evidence has ever been produced to prove the involvement of America, that stigma has however persisted.

It was on the back of such sustained perceived American involvement that to this day Botswana has continued to be derided and jibed by many states in SADC and the African Union as a puppet of the West.

“The United States, working with the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), has contracted the construction of facilities to support future, mutually-agreed bilateral and multilateral exercises at Thebephatshwa Airbase, Molepolole, Botswana,” said the American Deputy Ambassador to Gaborone, Michael Murphy in response to Sunday Standard enquiries.

Close to half a dozen military, intelligence and diplomatic sources contacted for this story said they suspected the significance of the installation could herald greater American presence in Botswana which could become a shoo-in for future transfer of the American military Africa Command (AFRICOM).

This assertion has however been dismissed by Murphy.

“We are not constructing a U.S. military base, and we are not planning to relocate AFRICOM headquarters to Botswana… This project, a direct result of Botswana hosting Exercise SOUTHERN ACCORD in August 2012, underscores the close and ongoing partnership between the BDF and United States,” continued Murphy.

He said the construction block consists administration, instructional and latrine facilities.

“These particular facilities were chosen so that if Botswana and the United States agreed to a future exercise at Thebephatshwa, the exercise will not disrupt normal BDF operations,” he said.

The American diplomat said from the United States perspective, Exercise Related Construction (ERC) will also reduce support costs for exercises by eliminating the leasing of tents or portable shelters on a recurring basis.

“There are multiple stipulations associated with ERC, but the two most notable ones are: the host nation must provide written approval for the project and the project cannot support a continuous U.S. presence,” asserted Murphy.

He also said the BDF will be free to use the facility after the departure of the American army following the completion of the exercise.

A former senior army officer is however not convinced.

He said the scale of the facilities will inevitably raise eyebrows.

“It will be interesting to see how going forward our Government will fight pressure that has always been there that Thebephatshwa is an American-related base. There is nothing wrong with BDF (Botswana Defence Force) cooperating with the Americans. It happens all over the world, but for us, geo-political dynamics are very sensitive. Our Government should be more transparent and there should be effort not to contaminate Thebephatshwa by mixing the commands,” he said.

Botswana has often been mentioned in the international media as a candidate for relocation of AFRICOM should the command have to leave Stuttgart, Germany where it is currently headquartered.

Any heavy American military presence in Botswana will conjure memories when the then President, Festus Mogae rejected gestures by the Americans in 2007 to set up in Botswana.

Mogae said at the time that he could not come up with plausible reasons to sell and justify the establishment of AFRICOM in the country.

In the middle of an explosive and often divisive national debate, together with opposition parties, some members of Mogae’s cabinet said allowing AFRICOM to set up in Botswana would turn the country into a legitimate terrorist target.



Meanwhile, China Quietly Takes Over Zimbabwe

Tyler Durden's picture

While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, China, which has kept a very low profile on the Ukraine situation aside from the token diplomatic statement, is taking advantage of this latest distraction to do what it does best: quietly take over the global periphery while nobody is looking. 
Over two years ago we reported that none other than Zimbabwe - best known in recent history for banknotes with many zeros in them - was bashing the US currency, and had alligned itself with the Chinese Yuan. This culminated last month with the announcement by Zimbabwe’s central bank that it would accept the Chinese yuan and three other Asian currencies as legal tender as economic relations have improved in recent years. "Trade and investment ties between Zimbabwe, China, India, Japan and Australia have grown appreciably," said Charity Dhliwayo, acting governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Exporters and the public can now open accounts in yuans, Australian dollars, Indian rupees and Japanese yen, Dhliwayo said. Zimbabwe abandoned its worthless currency in 2009.

It accepts the US dollar and the South African rand as the main legal tender. Their use has helped to stabilise the economy after world-record inflation threw it into a tailspin.

Independent economist Chris Mugaga said the introduction of the Asian currencies would not make a huge difference to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

"It is Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, which has forced this, and nothing else," he said.
And now, as a result of the "Look East Policy", we learn that China has just achieved what every ascendent superpower in preparation for "gunboat diplomacy" mode needs: a key strategic airforce base. From the Zimbabwean.
China is planning to set up a modern high-tech military base in the diamond-rich Marange fields, says a German-based website, Telescope News.

The news of the agreement to set up the first Chinese military airbase in Africa comes amid increasing bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and China – notably in mining, agriculture and preferential trade. China is the only country exempted from the indigenisation laws which force all foreign investors to cede 51% of their shareholding to carefully selected indigenous Zimbabweans.

The airstrip at Marange has sophisticated radar
systems and ultra-modern facilities

The Marange story quoted unnamed military officials and a diplomat admitting knowledge of the plan to set up the base. Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces were fruitless, as spokesperson Lt Col Alphios Makotore was consistently unavailable and did not respond to emails by the time of going to press.

The website speculated that China could be positioning itself for future “gunboat diplomacy” where its military presence would give it bargaining power against superpowers like the US. It would also be safeguarding its significant economic interests in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa.

Veil of secrecy

“Military officials in Zimbabwe said details of the airbase plan were sketchy and mostly classified due to the veil of secrecy around President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with China’s Red Army. A sizeable number of Chinese troops are reported to have their boots on the ground in the Marange diamond fields, which have since been cordoned off as a high level security zone,” said the publication.

It added that a senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer based in Harare confirmed that there were rumours of the impending establishment of the airstrip as a “follow up to a military treaty signed between China and Zimbabwe in July 2005”.

Telescope News has made sensational claims in recent weeks, among them that Defence Minister and Zanu (PF) Secretary for Legal Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was secretly anointed by the military to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Key battleground

It quoted a former Asian diplomat deployed to Zimbabwe for almost a decade as saying: “Haven’t you heard that Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today? As such in terms of geo-politics Zimbabwe is already a key battleground, for various competing powers. During my stay there, we heard about many military agreements being signed between the two countries.”

Chinese companies are heavily involved in diamond mining, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Government. They are believed to have constructed the airstrip at Marange that many suspect is being used to clandestinely haul diamonds to unknown destinations. It has sophisticated radar systems and ultra-modern facilities.
At this point expect to see a prompt, and unexpected, escalation in hostilities in southern Africa, most likely due to latent ethnic conflict of some kind (and brought back to the surface with the help of a few CIA dollars), which in turn will be the justification for US drones to begin operations in proximity to Zimbabwe to keep up with China's encroaching take over of Africa, now from the south.

Perhaps most interesting is the finding that Zimbabwe's president-cum-dictator, Robert Mugabe, so widely despised by the west, is in fact on China's payroll:
Confidential Central Intelligence Organisation documents leaked last year suggested that China had played a central role in retaining President Robert Mugabe in the July 31 elections, indicating that high level military officers had worked closely with the local army in poll strategies while Beijing bankrolled Zanu (PF).

China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner after South Africa and has strategic economic interests in many African countries to guarantee raw materials, job sources and markets for its huge population.

The new Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, recently said trade between the two countries last year exceeded the $1 billion mark. Yet Zimbabwe is only 26th on the list of China’s 58 biggest African trading partners.

The Asian country has supplied Zimbabwe with military hardware, including MIG jet fighters, tanks, armoured vehicles and rifles, since Independence.
In other words, while nobody was looking, China just took over one more nation without spilling a drop of blood. And now back to the regularly scheduled Crimean War part X.

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