What particular biological agents are we talking about?|
I'm talking about anthrax and cholera in particular, but also a couple of
viruses that are not endemic to Zimbabwe [such as] the Ebola type virus and, we
think also, the Marburg virus. We wonder whether in fact these are not
associated with biological warfare against this country during the hostilities.
It's quite coincidental, and a very interesting coincidence, that the height of
the infection should occur when the hostilities were at their height.
Now you've studied the epidemiology of all these possible agents. Let's
start with anthrax. Anthrax is indigenous in Zimbabwe.
Yes, but when you have an annual incidence of around two dozen or less for a
period of about twenty years, and then you suddenly get a spike of 10,000 in
1979-1980, there's some extraneous influence at work. And this coincided with
the intensification of the struggle right toward the end, just before
You're saying that it is epidemiologically inconceivable that you can have
an average of 24 cases a year that then spikes to 10,000 in the next two
I think it is very unlikely ... I haven't heard of it.
What about cholera? Cholera too is endemic in certain parts of
We've looked at the records right back to the date of occupation and there
have never been any outbreaks of cholera until 1975 and that coincided with the
introduction of cholera in East Africa. It's very interesting that it occurred
so quickly after the introduction, particularly during a period of hostility
when movement was severely restricted in the eastern districts of this
Now what else was it about the pattern of the cholera outbreaks that has
made you suspicious?
If the [outbreaks] had been endemic or if they had been natural, we would have
expected them to continue and recur, and certainly with the health services in
the disarray that they were toward the end of the war, we wouldn't have
expected them to come under control in [such a] quick period. In fact, one of
the people who studied cholera in Southeast Asia remarked to me on the 1993
outbreak, that he was surprised that we had got cholera under control within
three months and eliminated it within seven.
That just wouldn't happen if it were an endemic outbreak.
Well, even it if were suppressed it would recur, and it has not until very
recently and these are new imported cases.
Now, you were talking about Marburg, Ebola and bubonic plague. What evidence
do you have on these agents?
Again, the interesting feature is that they are focal, they are not
generalized, and plague tends to spread very rapidly--bubonic plague--because
it's carried by a flea, and the rats which carry the fleas are a natural wild
animal in Southern Africa and yet it occurred in just one area, and it has
recurred in just that one area. That again was an area where there was intense
fighting between the forces of liberation and the freedom fighters.
Ebola was along the line of the Zambezi [River], and I suspect that this may
have been an experiment to see if a new virus could be used to directly infect
people. Interestingly, Ebola has not been established as having a known victim
What evidence, in terms of the number of cases, and again the epidemiology
of it ...
We looked back at serological tests on strange cases which occurred around
1980, and found nine cases including a fifteen-year-old child, who showed
Who do you believe could have been responsible for the introduction of these
That is really outside my capacity to conjecture. But we know that it could not
have been the Rhodesian forces acting on their own, they didn't have the
logistics ... we know that there was a tremendous amount of support from the
apartheid regime because they were intensely concerned that if this country
became independent and democratized, it wouldn't be long before apartheid fell
apart ... I think this was introduced by foreign agencies probably through
South Africa and probably by the South Africans in order to use Zimbabwe as a
mechanism for protecting their apartheid regime against the overwhelming
freedom movement which was threatening the structure of apartheid.
You have ordered an investigation, some of those results are up, is there
any doubt in your mind?
In my own mind there is no doubt that there were deliberate attempts to
inoculate our country with those organisms. It's a deliberate attempt at
destroying a population. I would put it on the same level as ethnic
You are aware, of course, of the current criminal proceedings against Dr.
Wouter Basson in South Africa. Do you believe that there could be a connection
between South Africa's Chemical and Biological Warfare (CBW) program, which was
known as Project Coast, and the possible use of your country as a test
Certainly, because all the areas which were affected were areas adjacent to
areas of South African control and influence.
Do you have any prima facie evidence of a connection to South Africa--any
of this at all which you can present now?
None at all ... I think it's going to be very difficult to get concrete
evidence. All the evidence will be circumstantial, but I think there will be
people still alive who can be identified as knowing what actually happened.
If the people who are still alive are identified and the evidence is there,
what do you believe should be done with these people, in terms of
I think this is the highest form of inhuman murder ever known to man. It is
targeted indiscriminately, mostly at innocent civilians and without any regard
as to the future. Anthrax, for example, will remain contaminating our soil for
at least the next fifty years, and we do not have the resources to remove it.
There has been another outbreak of anthrax in the same area very recently, and
we are sure that is because of spores left over from the previous epidemic.
How are you going to get rid of anthrax in Zimbabwe? You don't know how or
where it was sown. You know it stays in the earth for up to 50, 60, 70 years
... how are you going to get rid of it?
Yes, I think that is a very difficult problem. In fact, the wild animals have
now been infected, we've had antelopes who have anthrax, we have evidence of
elephants who have developed anthrax. When it is as widespread as that,
detecting it and eliminating it is a major task outside the capacity of a small
country like Zimbabwe.
Anthrax is not readily available; where do you think the original spores
I'm sure it was a laboratory-devised virulent type because there are some
anthrax bacilli which are not particularly virulent, and I suspect that they
were responsible for the sporadic cases we had in the thirty years before the
major epidemic, and one suspects that these were specifically developed as a
weapon against an overwhelming number of people who were regarded as enemies to
those who occupied power at the time. If you can destroy a person's cattle, you
can destroy his livelihood, if you can kill a few people in the process, then
you can subjugate a large number of people. That is the evil of biological
The world has recently become very aware of the use and dangers of
biological warfare given the events in Iraq, etc. You've had it used here in
Zimbabwe. What lessons are there for mankind in what you are undergoing
I get very worried about things like the big powers wanting to retain the
smallpox virus. For what reason? ... [I] think it is quite wrong that Russia
and the United States still retain the virus of smallpox. Smallpox has been
eliminated from the world in 1978, there can be no medical justification for
continuing to retain even the smallest amount of smallpox virus unless people
have an intention to use it as a potential backup to a war situation.
We also need a lot more transparency on medical experimentation on the sorts of
things like developing genetic processes. Even cloning really frightens me
because of the possibility of genetic introduction of materials which are
undesirable into particular unsuspecting communities.
As possibly the world's first modern victim of biological warfare, do you
have a political view at all about the Biological Warfare Convention (BWC)? Its
intention is benign and good, but there's no way of really inspecting it,
there's no verification method. If you had the ear of the right people, what
would you say to them now about the BWC?
The contrast between the approach to the Iraqis and the approach to the general
issue of biological warfare material held by other countries is so stark as to
be frightening. Why are people concealing the fact that other countries have
elements of biological warfare, and admit to having them, and these are not
controlled or destroyed and the factories which are producing them are [not]
So would you like to see an international inspectorate with real powers of
immediate, sudden and unannounced entry?
And do you believe that something should be done about the international
availability of these biological agents, that it should be stopped?
Absolutely, it should be an absolute prohibition, not a gentle code of practice
or piece of advice. I am particularly incensed that my country has been used as
a laboratory for evaluating the effectiveness of biological weapons on my
people, my African people, and this is something which in my view is totally