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Vol 41 No 9

Published 28th April 2000


Congo-Kinshasa

A military trap

Harare's domestic crisis makes its military intervention look even shakier

The Congo war is at the heart of President Robert Mugabe's troubles. The economic cost of Zimbabwe's military involvement, with no immediate return, is a load which donors do not wish to lighten. And the human cost, in troops lost and resources diverted, is fertile ground for the political opposition. However, Mugabe is by no means free to drop the whole misconceived adventure. He himself, with a group of intimate supporters, would be the main beneficiary if things turned out as he hoped. Bringing home the troops would itself be risky. Although the figures are secret, it is widely believed that more than 200 Zimbabwean soldiers have been killed or wounded in Congo; if the sacrifice turned out to be in vain, there is a real risk that the returning troops would join up with Mugabe's other critics.

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