ZIMBABWE’S security service chiefs, particularly Central Intelligence Organisation Director General Happyton Bonyongwe, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Air Marshal Perence Shiri and Prisons Commissioner-General Retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi, are facing purging as President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and her allies push for their removal.
Since her controversial entrance into Zanu PF mainstream politics, Grace and her allies have been aggressively pushing for the removal of senior government officials, party leaders and state apparatchiks associated with vice-president Joice Mujuru who is facing ouster at congress for allegedly plotting to topple or assassinate Mugabe.
In the clearest sign that security chiefs could be removed over the succession battle, Grace on Tuesday linked Bonyongwe to the Mujuru faction during her address to small and medium enterprises and cross-border traders at her Mazowe farm.
In her address, Grace said Mugabe had a meeting with Bonyongwe one day in the morning where he was told that she had an ear infection. Grace said Bonyongwe then called in the afternoon to ask how she was feeling while in the company of Mujuru, suggesting betrayal and dirty tricks. Sources said Chihuri, Zimondi and Shiri are also linked to the Mujuru faction consequently may not be secure, with some suggesting Bonyongwe may be replaced by presidential guard boss, Nhamo Sanyatwa.
While Bonyongwe’s deputy Aaron Nhepera, who is linked to Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction is also being considered the problem is that he is supposedly related to Mujuru.
Top government sources said Chihuri may be replaced by deputy commissioner-general Innocent Matibiri while other candidates are being considered to replace Zimondi and Shiri.
Sources also told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Bonyongwe lost support after the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks revealed he was linked to former Finance minister Simba Makoni’s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party as well as the late former army commander General Solomon Mujuru. He is also alleged to have been part of Zanu PF’s bhora musango (anyone but Mugabe) protest strategy during the 2008 elections.
In the election Mugabe suffered a shock defeat in the first round of polling before storming back through a brutal campaign. For the first time since Independence in 1980 Zanu PF surrendered its parliamentary majority.