Shalli’s Visit to Zim ‘Routine’

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By Catherine Sasman

WINDHOEK

Lieutenant General Martin Shalli of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) yesterday said his four-day visit to Zimbabwe was a “normal routine” visit, just as he had earlier visited Tanzania and South Africa.

He dismissed news reports that he had “secret” meetings with Zimbabwean Defence Force Zimbabwean Defence Force Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, saying that was mere “speculation”.

Shalli further denied that there were any discussions regarding the defence pact reached between Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic in the Congo (DRC). The three countries entered into defence cooperation with the DRC government in the late 1990s.

He suggested that the defence pact was limited to ‘Operation Sovereign
Legitimacy’ in the DRC, and that it could not be extended beyond that.

Shalli further said that assistance among the various defence forces of the member countries is limited to non-military support, such as training and assis-tance during emergencies like floods.

“It is not about sending troops to go and fight,” Shalli told New Era when probed about the type of assistance member states have vowed to offer each other.

Shalli’s visit to Zimbabwe came at a time when opposition party leaders in Namibia called on Government for more circumspection in its relations with ZANU-PF.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International, during a recent visit to Namibia and other southern African countries, said in a report documenting what it called unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment mainly against the Movement of Democratic Change (MDC) were perpetrated by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), state security organisations and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The report further stated that senior members of the Zimbabwean government have strong links with the ZNLWVA. It cited President Robert Mugabe as the patron of the organisation and other senior officials as members of the association.

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