CIO’s Thuthani a “heroine”

Nothando Thuthani, the deputy head of a division of Zimbabwe’s spy organisation, the Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, who died Wednesday morning, has been declared a liberation war heroine. She was the highest ranking female CIO officer.

Nothando Thuthani
Nothando Thuthani

Thuthani, 57, died at the private West End hospital in Harare. The spy agency boss, Happyton Bonyongwe said in a statement she died "after a short illness."

The CIO deputy director- External Branch, was one of the intelligence chiefs who loomeed largely in the shadows, unknown to the public. But she was a member of the powerful Joint Operations Command – a

thinktank of top security officials – for 11 years. The thinktank has been the brains behind the regime of President Robert Mugabe and his political grouping, Zanu (PF).

It is among the country’s most serious perpetrators of widespread human rights abuses Thuthani, who hailed from Marondera, has been declared a liberation war heroine by the Zanu PF Politburo.

After studying for BA (Honours) degree in Public Administration at Sheffield City Polytechnic in the UK in the 70s, she worked closely with the Zanu branch in the UK and was also involved in the Lancaster House talks that ushered in Zimbabwe's independence in 1980.

She worked in the Zanu PF commisariat after Independence and later joined government service. She was attested into the spy agency in 1983 as a desk officer, rising through the ranks.

In 2000 she was deployed to head the Zimbabwe Consular in Ethiopia before she returned home where she was promoted to assistant director before she rose to become deputy director.

Bonyongwe said in a rare press statement Thuthani's death was a great loss to Zimbabwe.

"While the organisation is at loss, the service is determined to honour a great woman. Allow me to pay tribute to this great woman who was a mother, an intelligence officer, a diplomat, a leader of rare qualities, a politician, a social activist, a human rights defender and a cadre on the front line. She was also a champion of the advancement of gender equality and social justice," Bonyongwe said.

She is survived by two children.

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