PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday fired 17 top State security operatives believed to have facilitated the meeting between former President Robert Mugabe and opposition National People’s Party leader Joice Mujuru in Harare last week.
It is understood that the security agents were reportedly being punished for failing to reveal the intelligence of the meeting before it took place at Mugabe’s Blue Roof mansion in Borrowdale.
According to leaked Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) documents, the top government spooks were served with dismissal letters yesterday.
The letters were signed by new CIO director-general Isaac Moyo and were dated February 5.
Among those fired were director of security Albert Miles Ngulube, Andrew Muzonzini (director external affairs), one Changata (assistant director security), Mugabe’s aide de camp Wonder Nyakurima (provincial intelligence officer – security), Gilbert Mudimu (Mashonaland East provincial intelligence officer [PIO]), one Chinyai (PIO for Mashonaland West), and one Rusere (division intelligence officer for Harare Central).
Also axed were Weeds Mazowe (PIO counter intelligence), Tadzingaira Tachivei (assistant director counter intelligence), Dzingai Nhira (district intelligence officer – counter intelligence) and Kizito Gweshe (deputy director counter intelligence).
The dismissals of the spies followed a similar wholesale crackdown on the Zimbabwe Republic Police three weeks ago that saw Mnangagwa reversing some of the sackings.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga is in charge of the Defence, Security and War Veterans portfolio.
Well-placed sources within the intelligence yesterday told NewsDay that only four – Ngulube, Muzonzini, Changata and Nyakurima – of the 17 spies were above 55 years, meaning the rest were not yet due for retirement.
“Chiwenga wants to decimate the current CIO since he believes Mugabe and (former CIO boss Happyton) Bonyongwe still have control of serving officers. While only 17 senior officers have been fired now, the total targeted is 300 and Chiwenga intends to replace them with military intelligence officers,” the sources said.
Muzonzini, Changata and Ngulube were reportedly accused of helping former Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo and former Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere to flee the country during the November military operation that led to Mugabe’s ouster.
This, the source said, was despite reports that Moyo and Kasukuwere’s escape was negotiated by former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda when the CIO had already been ordered to surrender their operations to the military.
The source added: “The 55-year retirement age cut-off point is not supported by any legislation. It was just an idea that was proffered as part of recommendations to rationalise the civil service, but was never introduced into any statute guiding employment in the civil service.”
The sources said Charles Hwekwete, a former soldier, was reportedly heading a committee appointed by the new CIO director-general to look into the capture of the CIO by Mugabe and the G40 faction.
Hwekwete is former principal staff officer in Chiwenga’s office at the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and was earmarked for promotion to the position of CIO deputy director-general.
Repeated efforts to seek comment from Presidential spokesperson George Charamba were futile as he was not picking calls yesterday.