HARARE – The dreaded axe is seen shifting to the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) where some of the senior officers are at risk of either being retired, sacked or reassigned.
Highly-placed sources yesterday said the changes in the feared spy agency were meant to strengthen President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hand by surrounding him with officers of unquestionable loyalty.
The 75-year-old president has already rang the changes in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) — where long-serving commissioner-general, Augustine Chihuri, was retired.
And just recently, Mnangagwa wielded the axe on 11 senior cops as he continues to strengthen his grip on power after ascending to power through a military-assisted soft “coup”.
Fear and apprehension have since gripped the CIO in the wake of the recent changes in police force with morale among those perceived to be close to former president Robert Mugabe hitting its lowest ebb.
“There are changes that are looming and the new boss (Isaac Moyo) is already at work, coming up with his own team,” a source told the Daily News yesterday.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is responsible for both the intelligence and defence portfolios, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print yesterday as he was said to be in a meeting.
Soon after his ascendancy to the top office last year, Mnangagwa appointed Moyo to head the spy agency as its director-general.
Prior to his appointment, Moyo was Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa.
In making the appointment, Mnangagwa overlooked the CIO’s then acting spy chief, Aaron Nhepera, whom many thought was a shoo-in for the position.
Analysts told the Daily News yesterday that the changes in the spy agency were inevitable due to lingering mistrusts between the current administration and security personnel who were close to Mugabe.
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said it was to be expected that after going through a transition of the nature witnessed in the country, a clean-up of the institutions that were perceived to be loyal to the Generation 40 (G40) faction would follow.
“The Lacoste faction is now in the process of cleaning any G40 infested institution. The first was the police, which was thought to be G40,” said Masunungure.
“The CIO was also perceived to be a pillar of the G40 camp. I don’t think it will end there but will extend to other departments of government — it was expected that the vanquished faction will pay a heavy price,” he added.
Before the collapse of the G40 faction in November last year, it had fought a bitter war of attrition against the rival Team Lacoste camp, which was campaigning for Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe.
Several members of the G40 faction have since been arraigned before the courts facing a litany of charges, while others are in hiding.
Political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said the on-going purges were not meant to reform the security sector but represented a cleansing exercise targeting those who supped with the G40 faction.
“These are not reforms. Security sector reform entails stuff such as reorienting, retraining officers, changing training curriculums to embrace more rights based and non-adversarial approaches, changing service charters etc,” opined Saungweme.
He said what is currently obtaining is political factional cleansing and purging of G40 aligned service women and men, adding that the whole exercise does not transform the security sector into a professional outfit but politicises it.
“The idea is to remain with Lacoste aligned and loyal service women and men. These reduce our security service to be political running dogs of the ruling faction than a professional service loyal to country.
“Calling what is happening security sector reform is ignorant and uninformed. Proper reforms are preceded by proper human resources and skills audit of the force, consultation around which model of reforms is ideal and then do the reforms.
“What is happening is just like how G40 ministers were chased around. That was not reform but factional purging,” said Saungweme.
Since his ascendance to power, Mnangagwa has been relying more on the military — shunting aside the police and the CIO.
Whereas, it was the ZRP police protection unit and the intelligence services that had Mugabe’s ear, the roles have been reversed since the dawn of the new era.
Before Mugabe’s fall, the military stamped its authority — with the other security arms watching from the sidelines.
In fact, some of the police and intelligence officers were rounded up and disarmed when the army stepped in to “arrest” criminals around Mugabe.
Several top officials from both the police and CIO were placed under house arrest, while the head of the president chief of security Albert Ngulube was left for dead on the night that the military stepped in.
The army also besieged the police support unit. – Daily News