Many are working in Zimbabwe, where they have been promised that they will be deployed on lucrative foreign assignments if they prove themselves by attacking President Robert Mugabe’s opponents during elections.
Others are already in foreign countries, especially the USA and UK where they work as spies, many pretending to be students or asylum seekers in order to get information about Zimbabweans living abroad. The information came to light when families of some of the students complained. This followed the mysterious death on November 6, 2010, of Leonard Tinotenda, who was a Zimbabwe government-sponsored student at Limkokwing University in Malaysia.
His colleagues and relatives at his rural home in Village 5, Chironde Resettlement Scheme in Shurugwi said they were surprised when state security minister Sidney Sekeramayi and CIO director Happyton Bonyongwe as well as other senior intelligence officers virtually took over the funeral. Tinotenda was buried on November 16 2010.
Against their will
Intelligence officers are also said to have been present in numbers at a memorial service for Tinotenda in Shurugwi on 5 February this year. Relatives said they were concerned about the circumstances of Tinotenda’s death. Families of a number of other scholarship students said they were shocked to discover that beneficiaries were being turned into spooks
against their will. Zimbabwe’s brutal secret police is notorious for murdering Mugabe’s opponents and close allies who cross him.
Another of the graduates, identity withheld to protect him, who was studying agricultural economics at a South African university, is known to have been deployed at CIO offices in Manicaland. His relatives claimed that he had been forced to abandon a woman he had married soon after graduation as she was not acceptable to the spy agency because of her family’s suspected MDC ties. The family members claimed the young graduate had been ‘given’ another woman, who they
suspected was an operative meant to monitor him.
The Mugabe dictatorship has always recruited from universities but this was previously done in a subtle way, targeting students from poor backgrounds or those with strong Zanu (PF) connections. Among the best-known student recruits is Collin Chingura, who was later embroiled in the Rashiwe Guzha murder case. Chingura is now a lecturer in commercial law at a technical college in Gweru after the CIO apparently dumped him over the Guzha case.
He campaigned actively for the MDC in the Midlands in 2008, giving legal and security advice to an MDC candidate and some activists. Chingura told this reporter several years ago that he was framed by the late CIO external affairs director Edson Shirihuru. Shirihuru is said to have gone into a jealous rage and murdered Guzha after discovering she was two-timing him with a cabinet minister. Chingura claims he only drove Guzha, as he usually did on Shirihuru’s instructions, to a hotel used as a love nest on the day when she was last seen alive.