CIO steps up snooping on Tsvangirai

STATE security agents have stepped up surveillance on former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai after initially withdrawing their services when the ex-premier travelled to South Africa last month, it has emerged.

Report by Staff Writer

After realising that Tsvangirai could hold meetings without their knowledge at a time he is battling to convince the world President Robert Mugabe rigged the July 31 elections, state security reassigned its agents to keep a close eye on him, sources said.

State security agents are keen to know who Tsvangirai meets and what he discusses.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka confirmed on Wednesday that the state had withdrawn security only to redeploy the officers within days.

“Some overzealous people had withdrawn security from the former prime minister but the issue has since been rectified,” he said.

However, senior MDC-T officials said there was grave concern the redeployment of state security was not for sincere protection but surveillance.

The MDC-T’s snooping fears come as state security has stepped up mass surveillance on private citizens, particularly those perceived as political threats, as the monitoring has widened beyond phone-tapping and e-mail interceptions to scrutinising activities on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Targeted groups and individuals’ communication activities are being monitored by the much-feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) from designated listening posts in Harare, mainly in Mount Pleasant.

The recent publication of Tsvangirai’s wife Elizabeth Macheka’s private correspondence with her alleged lover a fortnight ago exposed abuse of the state security apparatus to target opponents for political reasons rather than national security purposes. The Macheka episode is not an isolated incident as the CIO has a history of snooping or deliberately setting traps for private citizens perceived to be anti-Mugabe and Zanu PF.

MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti and former Roman Catholic archbishop of Bulawayo Pius Ncube are prominent victims of such state surveillance.

A government source said: “The CIO obtains recordings of voice calls and other material from local cellphone providers under the guise of carrying out state security operations.”