MDC tackles CIO


• Total overhaul needed to protect national interests
• An end to blackmail, lies and murder

HARARE – The MDC has drafted a National Security Bill suggesting an overhaul of President Robert Mugabe's spy Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, The Zimbabwean can report.

The MDC was tasked with drafting the security legislation as part of concessions made by Zanu (PF) at the power-sharing talks that led to the current efforts to form an inclusive government.

The National Security Bill, which defines the parameters of the security forces, was drafted by the MDC and is being reviewed by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) – a multi-party taskforce that will ensure compliance of all parties with the power-sharing deal.

The MDC wants the current publicly-funded national security agency to be reformed into a true information-gathering and analysis organization in a looming political dispensation where the MDC controls Parliament.

Sources familiar with the security legislation say the MDC has noted that the CIO is institutionally and culturally corrupt.

The MDC wants the CIO to boost its operational capacity and sharpen its intelligence-gathering methods to effectively protect the country’s interests, instead of being preoccupied with tracking down President Mugabe's critics and political opponents.

There are suggestions for extensive and true democratic oversights on the spy agency. The MDC has also reportedly the formation of a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee to review and veto all aspects of CIO operations upon a majority or super-majority vote, according to a source.

Pullout The CIO's capabilities are undermined by its leaders' zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest'

The Joint Operations Command, a security services think-tank under whose tutelage the CIO falls, is set to be abolished and replaced by a National Security Council, according to the terms of the power-sharing deal.

In the inclusive government, Mugabe will still head the new National Security Council, but with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as his deputy in the security thinktank. This will also include top army generals who have previously vowed they will never salute Tsvangirai.

As an elite enforcement' arm of the Zanu (PF) government, the CIO has been in the forefront of Mugabe's crusade for control of Zimbabwe, its societies and its resources, run under the cloak of "intelligence gathering" and brandishing the dagger of national security.

The CIO uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffing ballot boxes, rigging elections, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, death squads and even assassination.

The CIO is accountable to Mugabe alone and its charter allows it to "perform such other functions and duties as the executive may from time to time direct." The CIO budget is kept secret, is not subjected to audit by the comptroller or auditor general as other government departments are subjected to.

MDC shadow Defence minister, Retired Major Giles Mutsekwa, said the CIO has to be transformed into a refined national security organisation.

"As it is, the organisation is backward in terms of modern security philosophy and outlook," Mutsekwa said. "It was purely another arm of Mugabe's party designed to benefit none other than Zanu (PF) and that is why it operates like a private army." The six major branches of the CIO are: Internal, which has counter-intelligence or counter-subversion and serious crime units; External with its analysis and liaison units; Security with a Close Security Unit (CSU) and another known as GPSI – Government Protection Security Inspectorate; Economics with policy planning and analysis; and Administration with personnel, training, finance, resource management, transport and other services.

There is also the Director-General's pool, which is seen as a dumping ground for under-performing officers. A select few divisional heads of the 3,000-member strong CIO, report directly to Mugabe.

Immediately under the directors are deputy-directors, assistant directors, provincial intelligence officers, district intelligence officers, senior intelligence officers, senior assistant intelligence officers and ordinary-level intelligence officers.

Insiders say the rigid CIO structure entrenches an unreconstructed bureaucracy largely staffed with presidential toadies. Critics say the CIO's capabilities are undermined by its leaders' zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest. – BY CHIEF REPORTER

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