A United States diplomat recently raised security concerns after he smuggled two rifles and two shotguns into the country in 2016, only to declare the weapons in February 2019, about a month before leaving Zimbabwe. Fears abound that the weapons could have been used for nefarious purposes, including civil disturbances that occurred in 2018 and this year, although The Herald could not ascertain this at the time of going to print.
According to documents at hand, Mr John Kent, a US Embassy Attaché responsible for Overseas Building Operations and was project director for the New Embassy Campus, requested to import the firearms through a note verbale to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade on February 15. Mr Kent was, however, already in possession of the firearms, which he had not declared as part of his diplomatic luggage in 2016.
He also did not register or get the weapons licensed.
Mr Kent’s tour of duty reportedly ends in December, but because the construction of the new embassy ended in February, he left earlier.
The weapons smuggled into the country by Mr Kent are two Bolt Action rifles — a Savage 111 and Remington 700 — and two semi-automatic shotguns — a Berreta A390 and Weatherby SA-08.
“Kent flagrantly violated the law by not declaring his firearms to Zimra (Zimbabwe Revenue Authority) on his entry into the country in 2016. The firearms were apparently treated as part of the diplomatic luggage, was unlawful since firearms are among exceptions to this, under the Vienna Conventions.
“Kent stayed three years in the country, in possession of unlicensed firearms which is also a violation of the law. There is no guarantee that the firearms were not used for any outward or unlawful activities during that period.
“The US Embassy through the note verbale misrepresented facts by indicating that Kent is intending to import firearms,” one of the documents that The Herald is in possession of reads.
In November last year, Mr Nelson Chamisa’s MDC claimed it had disbanded a youth-led outfit called The Order of the Vanguard. This was after service chiefs that testified at the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 violence raised the possibility of the outfit having shot civilians.
The Herald yesterday reported that the MDC-Alliance is seeking to unleash a wave of violent demonstrations beginning next month, with ring leaders of civil unrest having received training in the Czech Republic and the Maldives.
Already, civic organisations with members attending an ongoing training in the Maldives being conducted by Centre for Applied Non-violent Action and Strategies, have started dissociating themselves from the regime change plot.
Meanwhile, one of the organisations fingered in our report, Rozaria Memorial Trust, yesterday said it was not involved in plots to unseat Government.
It issued a statement saying: “Rozaria Memorial Trust disassociates from the reference to our organisation as one of those undertaking training for subversive purposes. This report is false and a misrepresentation of who we are and damaging our integrity.”