Strained Zim-US Relations Affecting Hunt For Rwandan Genocide Fugitive

Last month Zimbabwean police said they were looking for Mpiranya, a former commander of the elite Presidential Guard during the genocide in 1994.

He is accused of playing a key role in the slaughter of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus during 100 days of bloodletting. Mpiranya’s head carries a $ 5 million bounty pledged by the US government.

Security sources said what was complicating the matter was the involvement of the US government because Harare was not willing to cooperate with Washington.

Besides, the sources said, if Mpiranya was to be apprehended by Zimbabwean police, there was no guarantee that the US government will give the $5 million reward to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

“The problem with this operation is that our political relations with the US are so strained to the extent that no one really believes that if we apprehend this Rwandan we will get the promised money,” said one security source.

“It’s better to just ignore everything than for us to be used to assist the Americans get their way.”

Last month the police showed what appeared to be vigour in searching for the fugitive, believed to be wealthy and running several businesses in Zimbabwe, Zambia, the DRC and in Europe.

“We want him dead or alive. We are looking for information to arrest him; we don’t know how long he has been in the country,” chief superintendent Peter Magwenzi of the police homicide section told the AFP news agency.

But the verve has died down. Sources said they appear to be no political will on the part of Harare to cooperate.

Relations between President Robert Mugabe are bad. The US administration accuses President Mugabe of stifling democracy in Zimbabwe.

On the other side, the veteran Zimbabwean ruler accuses Washington of seeking to remove him and his party, Zanu (PF) from power and installing a puppet regime in Harare.

The US government has slapped Mugabe and his lieutenants with an assortment of punitive measures including travel bans.