THE close security aides (CSA) and senior security aides (SSA) from the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) rejected by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa have been formally withdrawn from his office.

Among those rejected by Mnangagwa are Tendai (DIO in charge of Vice-President's office) as well as CSAs Chigova, Mageza, Nhire, Bhenyu, Jarawana, Kamurani, Kaitano, Mubvakure, Nyamukowo, Chokururama, Chivhunga and Chimire.

Sources said Mnangagwa only accepted a few close security officers particularly Temias Shumba who has always been one of his trusted aides. Shumba hails from Mnangagwa's Midlands home province and is believed to be related to the vice-president.

The aides were removed after Mnangagwa, who is a leading contender to succeed President Robert Mugabe, questioned their loyalty arguing most of them had in the past been either assigned to ousted vice-president (VP) and former rival Joice Mujuru, or her allies.

Mnangagwa and his backers, who do not trust CIO director-general Happyton Bonyongwe, also questioned why most of the aides were from Mujuru's strongholds including her Mashonaland Central home province and Mashonaland East, the home province of her late husband Retired General Solomon Mujuru, and not from Midlands where Mnangagwa hails from.

This suggests divisions along regional and ethnic lines which have always characterised Zanu PF's succession-fuelled internal strife.

Mnangagwa has been pushing for security sector changes and wants Bonyongwe and a host of CIO directors to be replaced, as he believes they remain loyal to Mujuru who was once tipped to succeed Mugabe.

"The Mnangagwa camp therefore believes the security aides were seconded to the vice-president and his office to spy on him," said a senior intelligence official.

CIO insiders and intelligence experts say rejection of security aides reflects growing polarisation within the intelligence services caused by Zanu PF's internal succession power struggles, and ongoing fights in the party as contenders seek to strategically position themselves for the post-Mugabe era.

Mnangagwa and his team reportedly also took issue with the fact that deployment of the close security officers took up to 24 hours after his appointment as VP, whereas Mujuru got her security beefed up "immediately" after her elevation in 2004.

Mnangagwa was appointed VP after Mujuru and several Zanu PF bigwigs were suspended or expelled for allegedly plotting to oust Mugabe through tactics that included assassination.

Clashes between the Mujuru and Mnangagwa factions have over the years split the intelligence services, which the factions believe are strategic in the critical succession outcome.

Although the CIO, as the country's main security agency, is supposed to be professional and apolitical, it has allowed itself to be sucked into Zanu PF succession politics as officers also position themselves.

Mnangagwa's allies believe the top hierarchy at Chaminuka Building (CIO headquarters in Harare) and provinces have residual loyalty to Mujuru, hence the push for the removal of Bonyongwe and his deputy Daniel Tonde Nhepera, among other senior directors.

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