THREE senior Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) directors were yesterday fired, while two others were re-assigned in the latest round of fresh purges, as President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa’s restless administration continues to remove senior security officers accused of being sympathetic to their ex-bosses and former president Robert Mugabe.
BY ANDREW KUNAMBURA
This has unleashed a new wave of suspicions, tensions and instability in the security establishment as the internal political power struggles in the Mnangagwa government continue to manifest themselves in various ways.
The move comes amid escalating tensions between Mnangagwa and his ambitious deputy, retired army commander General Constantino Chiwenga who, as the Zimbabwe Independent reported last week, is manoeuvring to position himself to wrest power from his boss. Security forces are critical to the intensifying battle between the two and their militarised factions.
Those who were fired from the CIO From yesterday for allegedly being too close to former CIO director-general Happyton Bonyongwe, who is also former Justice minister, and Mugabe include director-counter intelligence, Musafare Nyamudahondo, director-technical department Charles Hwekwete and director-economics Jimias Madzingira.
“There was an internal circular written on Wednesday which announced that three directors have been dismissed, while two were redeployed from the external branch to the security department, and from security to administration,” an intelligence source said.
“Nyamudahondo, Hwekwete and Madzingira are now out. The first two are said to be close to the Mugabe family and Bonyongwe respectively, while the third one is Bonyongwe’s brother-in-law as he is the brother to his wife Willia Bonyongwe née Madzingira. Hwekwete worked with Bonyongwe in the army.”
Bonyongwe was linked to the Zanu PF G40 faction which was crushed in the military coup last November, although he originally belonged to the late retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru’s ruling party factional group. Mujuru is believed to have been killed in the Mugabe succession battles. Mugabe supported G40, which was led by his wife Grace.
Since new CIO director-general Isaac Moyo came in December after the coup, there have been repeated purges and changes in the intelligence service. Before his appointment, Moyo had been Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa. Intelligence sources say Mnangagwa and his allies, including Moyo, are determined to weed out G40 remnants in the security sector, government and Zanu PF in a bid to ensure loyalty and trust in state institutions and their political organisation.
In February, Mnangagwa initiated the biggest purge of CIO officers when he fired 17 senior operatives for allegedly being loyal to Mugabe.
Among those dismissed at the beginning of the year were director-security Albert Ngulube, director-external Andrew Muzonzini, Kizito Gweshe deputy director counter intelligence and Tadzingaira Tachivei, assistant director counter intelligence, who was recently arrested over alleged links to Mugabe, the former president’s aide de camp Wonder Nyakurima and many others.