VP sets CIO on rivals

Zanu (PF) factional fights have taken a new turn amid claims that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has unleashed Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives to snoop on his rivals.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Reliable sources informed The Zimbabwean that Mnangagwa, a former head of the spy agency and ex-defence minister who still enjoys strong support among the CIO rank-and-file, was using all the tools at his disposal to ensure that he stays in the running for the presidency when President Mugabe finally exits.

Mnangagwa is angling for Mugabe’s position ahead of the 2018 general elections, pitting himself against a faction comprising Young Turks that is backing the president, now close to 92, to continue. His rivals, according to insiders, include Saviour Kasukuwere and Jonathan Moyo who are reportedly enjoying the support of Grace Mugabe.

Sources said Mnangagwa had taken advantage of the “demotion” of CIO director general Happyton Bonyongwe, to place operatives on assignment to spy on his foes.

Reports late last year suggested that Bonyongwe, together with police commissioner general Augustine Chihuri and prison and correctional services boss Paradzai Zimondi, were in the firing line, but their terms were recently extended by another year – even though they have been stripped of their powers.

Aligned to ED
They are being accused of siding with Joice Mujuru, who was expelled together with numerous ministers and other senior members for allegedly trying to topple Mugabe
“Bonyongwe has been reduced to a passenger in CIO and this has provided ED (Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa) with an opportunity to use his loyalists to make decisions on what missions to undertake. Most of Bonyongwe’s juniors are now aligned to ED,” said a reliable source.

The spooks, said the sources, are tracking all the movements by the targeted rivals, including who they talk to and where they go, in order to unpack their political strategies. Kasukuwere and his allies are being particularly closely monitored.

Among others, the spies are said to be on the tails of two Zanu (PF) members, Harare South MP Shadreck Mashayamombe, who is also the Harare provincial political commissar, and Acie Lumumba, the losing candidate in Hatfield during the 2013 general elections.

“It seems VP Mnangagwa is convinced that Kasukuwere is using his position as national political commissar to build structures sympathetic to him and as a way of frustrating his ambition to take over from Mugabe,” said another source.

The sources claimed that Lumumba and Mashayamombe recently stayed at a local hotel for two weeks and frequently met Kasukuwere and other strategists from his camp at a different five-star hotel.

“It also seems Lumumba and Mashayamombe are being used to mobilise the Harare structure in favour of Kasukuwere and the other guys working from his camp,” added the second source.

The sources said Lumumba recently lost his laptop at the hotel where he was booked in under mysterious circumstances and there is suspicion that the spooks who are following him could have taken it to track his communications. He is currently in an unnamed European country and could not be reached for a comment.

Mashayamombe said he was aware that some internal rivals were on his back, but played down the turf wars within his party. “I am aware that there are some people who have made it their business to spy on us, but that is nothing. People, including the media, are blowing the differences among us out of proportion. Our party is still intact and we are all working as one team that is led by our president,” he told The Zimbabwean.

He said he last met Lumumba some two weeks ago before the young politician flew out, and denied that he ever booked into the hotel. The sources, however, said the two were booked under different names but it was not clear why they chose to stay in hotels when they both have residences in Harare.

Mashayamombe defended his ties with Kasukuwere. “He is my immediate boss in his capacity as the national commissar. I work with him almost every day and that explains our closeness,” said the legislator.

The MP was recently sucked into brawls that occurred between rival camps during the burial of the late nationalist and educationist, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, at the national shrine. A group of youths allegedly aligned to Mnangagwa attacked party supporters who attended the burial wearing T-shirts that feature Mugabe and the late Joshua Nkomo and exhorting people to support Grace.

The youths demanded to know who the “Amai” (Mother) on the T-shirts referred to, even though it has become common knowledge that the title is reserved for Grace following Mujuru’s ouster.

Border Gezi
Mashayamombe defended those wearing the T-shirts in a clear indication that he was against Mnangagwa. In the interview with this newspaper, he derisively referred to the brawling youths as “Border Gezi”, a term used on Zanu (PF) militias who were trained at various centres to terrorise the party’s political enemies in the past.

“We have no place for these unruly Border Gezis. Zanu (PF) is a decent party and has no time or luxury for violence mongers,” he said. He defended the T-shirts that elevated Grace above the two vice presidents, Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, saying the only people that they recognised were Mugabe and his wife while “the rest of us comrades are equal”.

Early this year, Kasukuwere clashed with Mnangagwa over the choice of candidates for by-elections in Harare and other constituencies.

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