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Infighting divides security sector

THE ongoing Zanu PF purges of officials linked to former vice-president Joice Mujuru, which have been going on since October last year, have left Zimbabwe’s security sector deeply divided, intelligence service chiefs have told the Zimbabwe Independent.

Owen Gagare

Intelligence bosses say although divisions linked to Zanu PF’s succession politics have been there for many years, the dramatic entry of First Lady Grace Mugabe into politics ahead of the party’s congress in December and the resultant purges of officials linked to Mujuru had widened cracks and fuelled suspicions in the security establishment.

The officers say because of the strategic importance of having the support of the security sector, clashes between the two main Zanu PF factions before congress, one led by Mujuru and the other by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, have spilt into the intelligence services.

“As a starting point, the First Lady’s entry into politics took many people by surprise, but the greater shock was the way she publicly attacked and denigrated Mujuru, who at the time was the VP. At one point the intelligence decided to advise her against the attacks because the feeling was that she was going too far,” said a senior intelligence officer. “When she didn’t listen, a decision was however taken to watch developments, but the onslaught on Mujuru and the subsequent expulsion of many senior officials was received with mixed feelings. Those who had sympathy for Mujuru and her associates were obviously disappointed, but even the neutrals were disturbed.”

Another officer said that in the top ranks of the security sector it was common cause “which officers were in which camp”.
“Security details play an important role in the factions, not only because they provide intelligence on the activities of rival officials, but because they are also a source of leverage and power. The stronger the backing you have from the army, the intelligence and the police, especially at the top, the greater are your chances of influencing the direction of events,” the officer said.

“Another important role the security officers do is to provide analysis and do scenario mapping which is critical for planning purposes. So naturally, there is always mutual surveillance to see who is doing what work and for who, hence the divisions.

“There are many senior officials deeply entrenched in factional politics and people who were tipped for top positions if the Mujuru bid had been successful are counting their losses. Similarly the rise of Mnangagwa as the number one contender has pleased his allies in the security sector who are likely to get rewarded with positions if he eventually takes over.”

Among the top securocrats, Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga is believed to be close to Mnangagwa, while Central Intelligence Organisation Director-General Happyton Bonyongwe, Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri and Air Force of Zimbabwe Commander Perrence Shiri are believed to be pro-Mujuru.

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