By Elias Mambo
IN a move that further highlights growing divisions and mistrust within Zanu PF and government, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rejected a number of close security aides (CSA) and senior security aides (SSA) from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) deployed to him and his office, it has emerged.
This came in the aftermath of his ascendency following ex-vice-president Joice Mujuru’s ouster during the controversial Zanu PF congress last December.
Intelligence sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Mnangagwa — now widely seen as President Robert Mugabe’s most likely successor — and his allies rejected wholesale most of the security aides deployed to the vice-president, questioning why officers who previously provided protection to Mujuru and ministers associated with her were being seconded to him. They also asked why intelligence officers with dubious records were sent to surround him.
“It’s true that Mnangagwa has rejected a number of close security aides and senior security officers deployed to him,” a senior CIO boss told the Independent.
“Although he did not give clear reasons, it has now emerged that it was because he linked most of them to Mujuru and believed the deployments were politically-motivated to spy on him and possibly launch sting operations to ruin his succession prospects.
“What makes it worse is that Mnangagwa and his allies don’t want CIO Director-General retired Major-General Happyton Bonyongwe and most of his senior directors for political reasons as they believe they are Mujuru’s loyalists.”
CIO insiders and intelligence experts say rejection of security aides reflects growing polarisation within the intelligence services caused by Zanu PF’s internal succession power struggles, and on-going fights in the party as contenders seek to strategically position themselves for the post-Mugabe era.
Sources said Mnangagwa questioned why security personnel who come from Mujuru’s strongholds of Mashonaland Central, which is also her home province, and Mashonaland East were mainly seconded to him ahead of those from other regions, including officers from his home area of the Midlands, suggesting divisions along regional and ethnic lines which have always characterised Zanu PF’s succession-fuelled internal strife.
In addition, Mnangagwa and his team reportedly took issue with the fact that deployment of the close security officers took up to 24 hours after his appointment as vice-president when Mujuru got her security beefed up “immediately” after her elevation in 2004.
Mnangagwa was appointed vice-president after Mujuru and several Zanu PF bigwigs were suspended or expelled for allegedly plotting to oust Mugabe through dirty tactics, including assassination.
Intelligence sources say a number of security officers deployed to Mnangagwa such Tendai (DIO in charge of VP’s office) as well as CSAs Chigova, Mageza, Nhire, Bhenyu, Jarawana, Kamurani, Kaitano, Mubvakure, Nyamukowo, Chokururama, Chivhunga and Chimire were rejected by the vice-president.
The sources said Mnangagwa only accepted a few close security officers particularly Temias Shumba who has always been one of his trusted aides. Shumba hails from Mnangagwa’s Midlands home province. Most of the rejected officers once worked in Mujuru’s office while others were aides to expelled Zanu PF heavyweights and ministers, the sources added.
“For instance, SSA Nyamukowo once worked with sacked former Higher Education minister Olivia Muchena. He is from Mashonaland East province and together with Assistance Director Operations Muchengeti, the two used to ridicule Mnangagwa when he was still the Minister of Justice and thus they were rejected,” another senior CIO officer said.
Sources also said Mnangagwa and his allies fear that some in the top hierarchy at Chaminuka Building (CIO headquarters in Harare) and provinces still have residual loyalty to Mujuru.
“Former presidential affairs minister Didymus Mutasa, who was also the security minister, used his time to turn the organisation into a pro-Mujuru outfit,” the CIO officer said. “The close security unit in the last few years recruited many officers, most of them from Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland.”
” Mnangagwa refuses Mujuru loyalists”
Mnangagwa and his group say it would be naïve and risky to work with officers loyal to Mujuru.
“Why are officers who served Mujuru, former ICT minister Webster Shamu, ex-Labour minister Nicholas Goche, Mutasa, Muchena, former Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire and ex-Indigenisation minister Francis Nhema being deployed to Mnangagwa?. Itai Chivhunga was deployed to the VP despite his disciplinary issues and having worked with Muchena,” one intelligence officer asked.
“Jarawana was deployed to Mnangagwa last minute to replace Marangarire but no reason was given. Why? After all Jarawana had worked with Shamu and (former prime minister Morgan) Tsvangirai. What was the agenda? When you consider all this, it’s clear radical measures are urgently needed to get rid of all gamatox officers (Mujuru loyalists) in the intelligence department.”
Mnangagwa’s allies said there were a lot of security lapses at the time Mnangagwa was appointed because the majority of CIO officers were hostile to him.
“Cyanide, for example, was sprinkled in the VP’s office and nobody has been arrested because of gamatox officers,” the CIO officer said. “A day after his appointment Mnangagwa had to drive himself to work while in 2004 when Mujuru was appointed, security details were immediately provided.”
Although the CIO, as the country’s main security agency, is supposed to be professional and apolitical, it has now been sucked into Zanu PF succession politics.
Hence, Mnangagwa’s allies are currently pushing for the removal of Bonyongwe and his deputy Daniel Tonde Nhepera, among other senior directors seen as aligned to Mujuru but Mugabe is reluctant to remove them.
Intelligence sources say although divisions linked to Zanu PF’s succession politics have existed for many years, the dramatic entry of First Lady Grace Mugabe into politics ahead of the party’s congress in December and the resultant purges of senior officials linked to Mujuru widened cracks and fuelled suspicions in the security establishment.
Clashes between the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions have over the years split the intelligence services, which the factions believe are strategic in the critical succession outcome.