Brian Chitemba and Kuda Bwititi
FIVE Italians, known for operating in political hotbeds such as Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya recently sneaked into the country pretending to be eye specialists on a mission to provide eye specialist services at St Albert Mission, raising suspicion that some European countries have upped their spy missions in Zimbabwe.
Reports of the five Italians who stayed in the country for over a month emerged following last week’s revelations that two British spies sneaked into the country early this month, pretending to be aviation security experts.
Government has since refuted claims that the British spies were in the country to assist in aviation security issues.
Details at hand show that the five Italians led by Kara McNamara arrived in the country on August 3, 2016 and left on September 17, 2016 after camouflaging themselves as eye specialists at St Albert Mission Hospital in Mashonaland Central Province.
The Sunday Mail established that Government authorities raised eyebrows over the McNamara team’s visit since it was not cleared by the Ministries of Health and Child Care as well as Foreign Affairs.
A track record of McNamara’s movements show that the team was picked at an airstrip at Nyamanyeche Game Range that lies between Guruve and Centenary by one of the heads at St Albert’s Mission Hospital.
It has emerged that despite the team claiming they were in Zimbabwe to offer medical assistance, they never conducted any health work.
Information shows the suspected spies visited Guruve, Mbire, Rushinga, Mt Darwin, Hoya, Chimhanda and Kanyemba lodges.
Probed by Government authorities over the purpose of the suspected spies, Catholic leaders in Mashonaland Central defended the team saying they did not need clearance from Government since they were doing humanitarian work.
Government sources said; “They (McNamara and team) previously served in Afghanistan, Iraq and in Lybia in 2010. In January, they were in Syria. They came under Jesuits sponsorship and some of them are either serving or retired from the Italian army.”
Health and Child Care Permanent Secretary Retired Brigadier-General Dr Gerald Gwinji yesterday said he was unaware of the visit by the Italians.
“I am not aware of such a team. It could be that the hospital had its arrangements, but I don’t know much about that,” he said.
Contacted for comment, one of the heads at St Albert’s Dr Julia Musariri professed ignorance over McNamara’s visit.
“I don’t know anything about that,” she said before hanging up the phone.
The revelations come at a time British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing is alleged to have lied about suspected British spies who sneaked into the country early this month.
A Cabinet Minister last week dismissed her claims that the visit was linked to the aviation sector.
The revelations give further evidence that the suspected undercover agents came to Harare as part of Britain’s plot to subvert the Government through sponsoring opposition parties and shadowy “hashtag movements”.
Ambassador Laing told journalists soon after meeting Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe, last week, that Samuel Hamilton Adamson and Gordon Donald Birnie had come to Zimbabwe on aviation security business.
She said, “We certainly don’t have spies here. We had a team here which was looking at aviation security and trying to assist the Government of Zimbabwe. The story that there were spies here is completely fabricated.”
However, Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Dr Joram Gumbo who superintends the aviation sector denied that Government had made any correspondence with the dubious duo.
Adamson and Birnie visited Zimbabwe on September 5 and alert authorities raised the raised flag about the clandestine visit.
The two British operatives are understood to be known for engineering violent street “protests” in North and West Africa and it is believed that they visited Zimbabwe on a similar mission as the West ratcheted its plot to destabilise the country by sponsoring civil unrest.
Dr Gumbo said, “I have no knowledge whatsoever of those two and I only read it in the newspaper. If they were indeed working on issues to do with aviation, I would have been in a position to know.”
“In the aviation sector there are a number of foreign countries that we are working with and it is something that I readily have knowledge of. I recently visited Ethiopia and toured the Aviation Academy there. We are looking at establishing a similar academy here in Zimbabwe because a good number of our people receive training in Ethiopia.
“The other talks I have had in recent weeks regarding aviation where with officials from Spain who are also willing to assist us in this sector.
“I have nothing on my table regarding any dealings with aviation experts from Britain. So if indeed these two were doing business relating to aviation, I would have known because it is an area that I am very much interested in,” he said.
Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador David Hamadziripi declined to comment last week and referred questions to a spokesperson in the Ministry who asked this paper to speak to the Department of Immigration.
Officials from the Department of Immigration who spoke off-record told The Sunday Mail that the visit by the Britons was suspicious.
“The department became suspicious of the visit because we were not clear as to their mission. The British embassy only listed them as officials so it appeared that from the onset they wanted to protect them under the banner of diplomatic immunity so that they could escape scrutiny,” the official said.
During their visit, eyebrows were raised when the British embassy officials indicated that the two wanted to travel out of Harare.
According to diplomatic protocol, any visit by an embassy official outside Harare should be sanctioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Authorities later gathered that the two had a shoddy past and had visited countries such as Liberia, where they are suspected to have been linked to civil disturbances in West Africa.
Britain has a well-known record of planting spies to ferment disturbances in African countries to effect regime change agenda.
In Libya, Britain’s M16 intelligence was exposed for sponsoring Islamic extremists to assassinate that country’s leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Several former M16 agents who include David Shayler, David Watson and Annie Machon have exposed how the British administration attempted to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi between 1994 and 2000.
Gaddafi was subsequently murdered in 2011.
There has been a flurry of activity on Zimbabwe by British functionaries in recent weeks.-Sundaymail