African spies meet in Harare

HARARE - Top African spies have descended on Zimbabwe  to plot a way forward in the wake of rising terrorism which they fear could lead to Western intervention in Africa.

Officially opening a  bureau meeting of the Committee of the Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (Cissa) in Harare yesterday, Didymus Mutasa, Zimbabwe’s minister of Presidential Affairs, blamed the West for rising conflict in Africa and said rising terrorism in Africa could see the West establish military bases on the continent. Describing as “heinous” recent terrorist attacks on the Westgate Mall in Kenya, Mutasa blamed the west for breeding extremists, who he alleged used Africa as a platform to launch attacks on the West and in the process destroy Africa’s infrastructure.

“The targeting of Western interests has become an issue of concern, as it projects African States as having weak institutions to fight terrorism,” Mutasa said in a keynote address to the meeting.

“It is, therefore our duty to enhance Africa’s security architecture to ensure that terrorists do not find easy targets on the continent.”

The advent of terrorism has, according to Mutasa, been abused by countries such as the US, which has a joint command base with a select African countries, code named United States Africa Command (AfriCom).

“Indications are that, these military deployments could pre-curse the establishment of permanent foreign military bases on the continent.

“Terrorists would then target Africa as a battleground where they can convincingly take on western interest,” Mutasa said.

Security was tight as top spies met behind closed doors, mapping the way forward.

Mutasa said the West’s cavalier attitude towards Africa and total disregard of African voices and opinions was reflected in the dismissal of the African Union and Sadc observer teams’ positive verdict on the Zimbabwe elections.

While the West has dismissed the country’s July 31 polls as fraudulent, a view shared by the MDC, the AU and Sadc have upheld the plebiscite which saw President Robert Mugabe winning.

Although the country’s dreaded spy service has remained largely an enigma — Happyton Bonyongwe, Zimbabwe’s director-general  of the Central Intelligence Organisation, was elevated to the position of chairperson of Cissa.

Cissa acts as an advisory body on intelligence, peace and security matters to the Africa Union Commission and specifically the Peace and Security Council of the continental body.

It was established in August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria to close the existing void in the continental security architecture on intelligence matters.

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