A STORM is brewing in the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) over salary disparities and general conditions of service, putting spymaster Happyton Bonyongwe under pressure ahead of crucial elections expected later this year.
Report by Elias Mambo
Intelligence sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that senior CIO officers from the position of provincial intelligence officers (PIOs) to directors were given hefty salary adjustments, a move that has riled poorly paid ordinary officers.
“Directors and PIOs were given hefty salary increments in order to silence them; the adjustments were secretly made while the rest of us are still struggling,” said a source.
“Besides the salary adjustments, the senior officers have been issued with vehicles on two different occasions in the last two years while junior officers’ salaries remain stuck below the poverty datum line.”
The poverty datum line is currently pegged at US$506.
Sources said junior intelligence officers petitioned Bonyongwe over salaries and conditions of service on several occasions, but in order to rein them in, members were asked to sign a code of conduct a few weeks ago instead of having their grievances addressed.
Minister of State Security, Sydney Sekeramayi, could neither confirm nor deny that there is disgruntlement in the CIO over poor salaries and working conditions.
“I am not at liberty to say anything concerning those allegations of remunerations and packages,” he said. “Those issues are confidential and cannot be discussed.”
The discontent in the intelligence services may deal a body-blow to President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party’s aspirations for victory in crucial general elections this year.
The CIO is currently vetting aspiring Zanu PF members countrywide ahead of its primary polls to ensure the party fields strong candidates capable of winning elections.
Among other tasks, the CIO is reportedly doing background checks on candidates while also assessing their popularity in the respective constituencies.
The CIO restlessness has also put Bonyongwe under pressure to prove to Mugabe that his organisation can be relied on to help deliver victory to him and Zanu PF.
Early last year, some Zanu PF hardliners and sections of the security establishment wanted Bonyongwe booted out because of his alleged links to former Finance minister Simba Makoni and the late former army commander General Solomon Mujuru.
Bonyongwe, a retired major-general, was accused of supporting Makoni in the 2008 elections.
Mujuru, who reportedly recommended Bonyongwe to become CIO director-general, was behind Makoni, something which former Zanu PF politburo heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa recently confirmed. Dabengwa and Mujuru had tried hard to oust Mugabe in the run-up to the 2008 elections.
Mugabe and Zanu PF have over the years become increasingly reliant on the security sector to win elections. The security forces, including the army, police and intelligence services, have become Mugabe and Zanu PF’s pillar of support, making crucial interventions to ensure the party stays in power.
Ahead of the 2008 presidential election run-off, security forces embarked on a campaign of terror to rescue Mugabe who had lost the first round of voting to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.