Mengistu’s Gunhill guards idle

Security details at deposed Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haille Mariam’s state villa in Gunhill now spend their days playing draughts to while awy time after the despot was hustled off to a farm in Mazowe in 2002.

Mengistu Haille Mariam
Mengistu Haille Mariam

Neighbours and members of the public are questioning the logic of keeping all these state-of-the-art facilities for Ethiopia’s most wanted man at state expense while Zimbabwe is failing to feed its own starving millions.

Debate about Mengistu has been re-ignited by the demise of ousted Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi last week.

A visit to the villa by The Zimbabwean revealed that security has been scaled down considerably following the decision to relocate Mengistu, his wife Wubanchi and a child to a prime farm seized by Zanu (PF) in the rich Mazowe Valley .

The move followed security breaches at the Gunhill villa, where documents related to Mengistu’s Ethiopian trial in absentia were stolen. Mengistu’s notorious Derge, similar to Zimbabwe’s JOC, is accused of ordering the aerial bombing murder of over 2 000 civilians, among other serious atrocities.

The trial of Mengistu, a former air force pilot who instituted a coup, for the massacre of thousands of opponents, started in Addis Ababa in December 1994. However, President Robert Mugabe, to whom Mengistu was then a military adviser, refused to hand him over for trial. This, however, created security problems for the police, CIO and army, who are guarding him, as disgruntled Ethiopians threatened revenge.

Today, Zimbabwe is extremely hostile to Ethiopian refugees passing through the country on their way to South Africa, routinely detaining and torturing them to find out if their mission is not to assassinate their former tormentor, who has safely retired from killing on a lush farm in Zimbabwe.

The regime of Meles Zenawi that toppled Mengistu in 1991 has followed in the same footsteps of violent repression.

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