GOVERNMENT has removed key army officers who were running polls from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)’s offices in Harare ahead of nationwide urban council elections after informat
ion on their activities was leaked to the press.
Military sources said this week several army officers who were based at the CIO’s Hardwicke House offices along Samora Machel Avenue and other locations were recently transferred after an army report accused them of leaking details of their operations to the media.
“Some of the officers have been removed and were redeployed in other areas,” a source said. “For example, I know one of them who ran elections from Hardwicke House has been posted to Hwange.”
Key officers who were based at Hardwicke House included a Major Sibindi from KG VI army headquarters and a Major Kampira from the Presidential Guard unit.
The officers were said to have been supervising events in the run-up to the March Kuwadzana and Highfield by-elections won by the MDC.
Sources said the transfer of the army officers followed a report prepared by the army after the Zimbabwe Independent published a story on January 3 which revealed that the army was still running elections well after they assisted with last year’s poll which saw President Mugabe re-elected.
Mugabe’s hotly-disputed win is currently the subject of a court challenge by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Information on the transfer of military electoral officers comes hard on the heels of recent reports in the Independent and other newspapers that the army secretly supervised last year’s widely-condemned presidential poll.
The reports were based on letters between Zimbabwe National Army commander Lieutenant-General Constantine Chiwenga and Zimbabwe Defences Forces chief General Vitalis Zvinavashe which indicated that security forces covertly took control of the electoral machinery five days before the poll.
According to reports, 66 soldiers, including lieutenant colonels, captains, majors, sergeants, corporals and warrant officers were deployed to manage the presidential election.
Army officer Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba was appointed chief elections officer during the poll, while the Electoral Supervisory Commission was headed by Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, a retired military intelligence officer.
Nyikayaramba was at first described as retired but it was later discovered he was still a serving officer.
The army has been showing signs of an increasingly partisan association with the ruling party in the execution of its duties as statements this week attest. Prior to the election, security chiefs declared they would not support anyone elected as president if he did not have prescribed liberation war credentials.
Before this week’s mass action, the security forces again came out threatening to crush MDC-engineered demonstrations.